I walked off the stage, blinked a bit to get my eyes adjusted after the bright lights, grabbed some water, and headed straight up to my hotel room with the sound of applause still in my ears. I kicked off my shoes, threw myself onto the bed and started to cry.
When I first started having these reactions after an event, I’d been with the company about 10 years. Which at that point was at least 3 years too long.
My job was hardly awful! I got to travel, go to nice places, and I knew the work inside and out. I worked with great people. Much of my role was to demonstrate how valuable the work opportunity could be. As I stood on the conference stage and painted a picture of what they could do with the skills and experience they were gaining, I told them the sky was the limit! And it was. I was telling the absolute truth. But I wasn’t following my own advice.
Compromise Over the Long Haul is a Career Mistake
Most mature people know that sometimes compromises have to be made. It can even be smart to make compromises.
But what I what doing was making compromises that were holding me back in my career. I was rationalizing my choices based on assumptions rather than facts. I was settling for “good enough” at my own peril.
What I learned is that “good enough” is a dangerous gamble that can set you back at best, and trap you in a no-growth job at risk of “redundancy” at worse.
“You can’t have everything” became a mantra for the days when yet another compromise I had made hit me square in the face demanding my attention.
Commute too long? Well, you can’t have everything. Pay too low? Yes, but where else could I find such an amazing culture? Not growing and not challenged? I like being very good at my job, who needs the steep learning curve of a new job? Feeling passed by for opportunity? Be grateful for what you have.
Does any of that sound familiar?
The Risk of Staying
Change is hard because it forces us to revisit who we are, what we want, and what it will take to find something new.
Yet staying put in a job and compromising your aspirations is also a risk. It can lead to stress, anxiety, and poor performance. Even when you have a good fit, staying too long can be dangerous. Employers may see you as someone who isn’t interested in advancement. Or your skills can suffer if your company isn’t investing in you. Or you can become complacent.
All of these things happened to me because I stayed too long, I compromised, I rationalized, and I lied to myself. No, you can’t have everything. But in my experience, you can do better.
Eventually, I left the comfort of that long-standing role and moved successfully forward on a path that led me to the best job I’ve ever had. I can help you do the same!