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Three Reasons People Change Jobs

Three Reasons People Change Jobs

In teaching others about Managing with Aloha, I spend a good amount of time on Ho‘ohana, the value of worthwhile work, explaining how you can still work with intentional focus on certain things which are important you, even though your present job may not be the one you think of as your final career choice.

We recently considered this here at Lifehack.org in this article: Create Your Best Life at Work with One Question. The question was, “What’s in this for me?”

There are several reasons that people change jobs, restlessly seeking the one they can both live with and work within. Based on my personal experience, these are the three significant ones:

We change jobs because:

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  1. We didn’t select the right job for us in the first place.
  2. We don’t get along with our boss.
  3. We don’t feel a connection to those we work with.

The solutions for each of these are in our circle of influence. We have choices, and the only questions are a) if we will own up to how we ourselves can effect the change necessary to break out of the on-the-job rut we may find we are in, and b) if we are willing to do the work it takes.

This is not a comprehensive how-to listing, but in the spirit of Lifehack.org and the proverbial “20 that gets you the 80,” here are a few thoughts and suggestions.

To get the Right Job

This is the biggie in my view, because if this is the problem for you, reasons number 2 about your boss, and number 3 about your co-workers are a moot point. On the other hand, if you love your boss, and you love your co-workers, they become traps that keep you in the job that may be wrong for you— remember you can convert your relationships with those people to friendships, and move on.

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In moving on, the single best question you can ask in a new-job interview is, “What are the core values of this company?” If your personal values are a match your work alignment will be so, so much easier. If not, getting them aligned will be very difficult; you open the door to workplace overwhelm and dissatisfaction before you even pass probation.

Get selfish. In this case, selfish is not a negative word but a smart strategy. Bob Walsh wrote a great post here called, I want I do I get that will give you some inspiration with this.

To get the Right Boss

You have to manage up well, and whether or not you like hearing this, the reality is that managing up well can usually be reduced to making things easier on your boss by being a great employee. No boss will make life miserable for the person on staff that they count on most.

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Decide on the relationship you want with your boss, and then create it. Don’t assume and make this hard on yourself, just ask them, “How do you prefer we work together?” Be brave enough and direct enough to renegotiate the working agreement they ask you for if you feel it necessary, and then deliver on what you both agreed on, so your boss will to.

To get the Right Co-Workers

To paraphrase Ghandi, be the change you wish to see in your world. Set the example you want your co-workers to follow, get involved in change discussions at work about systems and processes so your input is considered in better solutions, volunteer to lead projects, and be the poster child of great work ethic.

The strategy here is twofold: No one likes to work with co-workers who are mediocre, and like attracts like. As you perform better, you raise the bar of performance others have to live up to in the entire department or company. Second, this is a way to get your boss to do their job, coaching everyone to high levels of performance; you help them see the possibilities, challenges, and opportunities in jobs that they themselves are not in, but are required to empathize with.

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Related posts:

Post Author:
Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business. You can also visit her on www.managingwithaloha.com where she regularly writes about value alignment in business, as with Ho‘ohana.

More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

This is why setting priorities is so important.

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3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

1. Eat a Frog

There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

2. Move Big Rocks

Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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3. Covey Quadrants

If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important and Not Urgent
  3. Not Important but Urgent
  4. Not Important and Not Urgent

    The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

    Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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    You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

    Getting to Know You

    Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

    In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

    These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

    More Tips for Effective Prioritization

    Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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