2.5 to 3 years

3yearscakeThis is the amount of time a number of people I know have been in the same job for. One of them enjoys their job so this is pretty good for her, but a few of the others say they have good days when it all seems just about ok and bad days when they just want to quit. But it’s comfortable, it’s easy, it’s money. So they struggle through the bad times and stay put. You should just be lucky to have a job and appreciate what you’ve got right?

Wrong. Let’s look at some great advice from Paul Angone (hope he doesn’t mind me paraphrasing):

The most dangerous job you can have in your 20s is a comfortable one. Comfortable is quicksand – the job you never wanted becoming the job you can’t escape. There is a stark cost for time wasted on comfortable: you don’t learn; you don’t refine who you are or what you’re capable of; remove challenges, remove growth.

You feel drained by doing nothing (mushy mind syndrome – you can spread one hour’s work over eight). Like a carousel ride that nevers stops spinning. Jump and roll. “We want to promote you” is the phrase you fear most. Quit comfortable before it’s too late.

I’ve jumped off the carousel and I’m rolling right about now. I’ve written a post explaining my current situation, but I still haven’t worked out whether I’m up to publishing it yet.

  • I won’t let myself become the person who’s been in a mediocre, non-challenging job for over a year.
  • I won’t let myself be the person who’s afraid of taking a risk and making their 20s count.
  • I won’t be the person who just sits back and lets life happen.

I’m often told finding the right work for you is just as much about luck and accidents as planning. But we make our own luck by meeting new people, trying new things out and taking risks, not by staying in the same place with the same people while our minds go mushy.

6 comments on “2.5 to 3 years

  1. emilysteezy says:

    I’m not sure I’m totally in agreement with you here… when I was in my mid-20s I thought I was in a totally boring, cushy job that didn’t utilize my strengths. I did a lot of crappy work and I thought I was capable of much more. Up until about a year ago (or maybe even less) I assumed that I would eventually leave because I didn’t think I was on the “right path” and I was constantly stressing about where I would go and what I would do.

    And now I’m in my early 30’s and I’m still at the same job. Well, I’m still at the same company… my job responsibilities have grown and grown. I’m now doing really interesting work and I’ve grown to appreciate what I have. I work with good people, I’ve been given lots of great opportunities, and I’m still learning a ton. And I’ve learned that things like having flexibility and the ability to have a life outside of work REALLY matter… because this allows you to pursue your passions and live up to your potential in other areas of life. Work is not everything.

    5 years ago I NEVER would have thought that continuing down the path I was on would lead me to a good situation, and yet it has. So sometimes what seems like a “comfortable”, or boring job that you should run away from is really just the boring part of what can be a good path. There’s something to be said for paying your dues and working your way up to something that is challenging and interesting.

    Although, it’s also possible that I’ve just completely sold out and settled for something mediocre. I do worry about this sometimes. But at the end of the day if I’m happy with it, who really cares.

    • I completely accept your point – I do know people who said they hated their first years of work/ in a certain job or field who did end up enjoying it.

      By the sounds of it I think maybe the difference is that there’s been room for your responsibilities to grow in the way you want them to, you’ve got good people around you and you’ve had lots of opportunities for continual learning. Flexibility is definitely important and work isn’t everything.

      Working out whether you’re simply at a boring part of a good path or on the wrong path might not be obvious, but for me I do believe it’s the latter.

      I agree that if you’re happy now maybe it doesn’t even matter – just out of interest would you say you love your work and/or find it meaningful? (As totally cliché as that question is!) I haven’t been happy, and I can’t see room for the kind of growth I want in the work, so I’ve chosen to make a change.

      • emilysteezy says:

        Yeah, just to be clear, I wasn’t suggesting that making a change was not the right decision, I was just bringing up another way to look at it.

        And yeah, I do find the work meaningful. It benefits society and saves lives (I work in automotive safety). I always knew that logically but before I was just too far detached to see how my work had an impact. Now that I am at the forefront of it all I can see the impact of what I do much more directly and that is cool.

        • Yeah, it’s a good point that comfortable/bored alone isn’t always a sign to leave, there are definitely lots of other factors to consider.

          It is cool that you’ve got to the point now where you can really see the value of what you do. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. K says:

    I think this entry is brilliant and so true. I have found myself in a job that is a huge inducer of ‘mushy brain syndrome’ but I accept it and excuse it because, well, “I’m saving to travel”, I’m “at a crossroads” I’m “figuring things out”. While all the above are true, it would be so easy to get stuck here forever, choosing comfort over life experience because it’s easier.

    This was a good reminder of why I am working these dull 9-5 hours. To get what I need from them, then get out.

    • Thanks K – it is so easy to fall into ‘comfortable’ without thinking about it, but sounds like you see your mushy mind job as a means to an end so won’t be letting yourself get too comfortable! Good luck with your future plans!

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