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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 August 20, 2019

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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