Signs of Turbulence – Should I Stay or Go?

2 points are useful to consider when considering whether to make a change – in a job, career, relationship.

1. Jumping Ladders

Have you learn what you need to learn at your present situation?

Let’s face it….many employment situations are difficult because of the management, co-workers, location, tasks, etc. Things are going along fine and then it seems over night situations at work start to become turbulent (unstable). Your boss leaves and someone comes in who is difficult to work for or understand. Your job changes significantly… They give you more work, ask you to do your and someone else’s job. Your company get purchased by another company. There is a change in management style.

Whatever the reasons, change is inevitable and it is inevitable for you. When I coach clients who happen to be navigating stray meteorites of problems at work, their first inclination is to find another situation, especially if it is because of a manager or difficult coworker. I call this ‘Jumping Ladders.’

You start up a ladder of a job, career, etc. You hit a snag in the form of a difficult person or situation. You say, “Oh, this must be the wrong job, company, etc..” So you start looking and find another position. Yet, progress in your next situation, it happens again…things are going smoothly and ‘bam!’ More problems and if you’ve done this enough, the problems have similar patterns. So wrong job…so you jump the ladder People do this in careers also. Wrong career – go get another one.

Here is what happens invariably when you jump a ladder when you have a problem…. You get to start over.

Because you didn’t learn the skills to overcome the problem, the problem keeps presenting itself. Whenever you go to a new place the problem or situation will present itself again. When you get the skills to deal with the problems or situation, then when you make a jump it will be lateral. Problems present themselves to be solved. To avoid solving them means you’ll have to face them again.

Years ago, I had a student who applied for a job that 8 people had failed at….being a manager and admin for a single boss who source of income was investments. It was just her and him. He had been through 8 people the previous year. He was a difficult person to work for. My student, taking all of the communication skills she had learned from me and applied them in her new position. She retired from that job a couple of years ago after 20 years with $1 million dollars in her retirement fund. It took skill that the previous 8 people didn’t have. No situation is impossible. It is all perception and your abilities and flexibility.

2. Our internal clock that tells us it is time for a change

How long will you go before you need a major change?

We each have an internal clock that tell us when it is time for a major change. Some of us know this by what is called ‘the 7 year itch’. Only it is not always 7 years. Some people have a 18 month to 3 year clock – we find these people in technology. They will need to change positions (or have a major change) at least every 3 years to maintain subjective coherency and avoid depression (meds won’t help). A large percentage of most company employees have a 5-7 year clock. They want a major change every 5-7 years. They also like things to evolve, not revolutionary changes. They like the improved not the radically new. Then there are people who will accept a major change every 15 years. Most of these people teach English and algebra so they will not be included in this discussion. It is good to be married to one of these if you want a long term marriage.

When we start to come up against that major change need, our situation will become turbulent… difficulty and changes at work. If we like our job, then if we start at the first sign of it to make little changes, we can often thwart the ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ and starting over. This is also true of relationships. Have you noticed many divorces happen at 7, 14 and 21 years, give or take a couple of years? If you look at people who have worked 20 years or more at the same company, they usually change positions within the company at around 7 years. By the way your clock may be different for different contexts of your life.

If work starts to become turbulent, ask how long has it been since a major change? If you are near due or overdue, start making small changes to see if it is salvageable. Your self-awareness in your own pattern can save a situation which will get better if you are proactive. You’ll get over the hump and things will smooth out again.

The most educated, self-aware and flexible you are, the easier it is to navigate stressful times.