I just got back from another “Goodbye, I got a new job” lunch. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the guest of honor. Nonetheless, I am genuinely happy for this lucky soul who is moving on to a new title (a promotion, of course) with the accompanying salary increase and perky benefits package at a company that is actually profitable. How refreshing! This also includes relocation to South Carolina, a kinder, gentler state where the dollar is sure to buy more than it does in the metro NYC area, particularly in real estate. Good for her! So why is this event so bittersweet, even melancholy, for the rest of us? Because we are left with “more of the same” except that there is one less person to shoulder the burden of the workload. At least that is what we tell ourselves and we console one another in picking up the extra pieces in the longer hours of our day together and shorter lunchtime at our desks.
If we were to get real, we might find that the real source of our mixed feelings is that to some extent, we want to be leaving, too. There is a whole big world out there waiting for us and our talent. What are we holding on for? Well, first, another job offer would be nice. Why let go of a sure thing? We have to hold on to this bird in the hand—frankly, we need the income. Beyond the dollars and cents, this position is security. Granted, we are fully aware that the industry is falling down around us, global competition is killing us, and the internal politicking and fighting causes our work fiber to be full of holes. Yes, all of this feels familiar, no matter how bad it looks. This job is a territory that we are comfortable in. We know the players, the energy, the vibe of this place. We know our role in this chaos, regardless of whether it is good, bad, or ugly. Why get moving?
There are lots of reasons to take a moment and inventory your current job and career right now. First, what does your current job say about you? Your choice of job says a lot about the role that you play in not only a company, but also the impact that you want to have in the world. Does your job reflect the things that you hold most important in life? Values are the qualities that define you; without them you would not be who you are. What are your top five values and how do you honor them in the demands of your current position? One place to look for your top values is to remember a time in your life when you were operating on all cylinders and felt happy, consumed by what you were doing and not aware of time. What was meaningful about this experience? Who were you with? What was happening that gave you a buzz? Tapping into this energy is a good guide to defining your values. The next step is matching your values with a company and a job position that shares these values. You may have to get creative to find that match, but it may mean that the next “goodbye lunch” has your name on it.