Don’t Jump Ship Too Quickly

Admit it. There are days when you come home from the job and toy with the idea of ditching it to move on to something better. But is ditching your job the best answer? It all depends on your circumstances.

CNN published a (somewhat surprisingly) insightful article called Look on the bright side of a bad job. Based on this title, I didn’t have high expectations. I rather expected the writer to admonish his readers to just “buck up” and find their shiny, happy selves. Instead, there are some pretty good ideas in the article…in particular the last one under their category of Wisdom.

If you’re unhappy, examine why. Do you dislike the people you work with or is it the actual work? Are you in a dead-end position? Think back to your interview and see if you missed any warning signs that this job might not be the one for you. Use your experience to avoid falling into the same predicament in your next job. If the situation didn’t turn sour until after you’d been with the company for a while, you know to stay attuned to shifts in attitudes and practices…Making the best out of a bad job situation doesn’t mean being complacent. A positive outlook shouldn’t replace your plans to move on (emphasis mine).

This is brilliant advice. I know from personal experience that when the shitstorm at work starts to get wild, there’s a strong impulse to jump ship. Yes, there are times when it’s necessary to move on (say, when our health is at stake or the situation has become toxic), but it’s not always the best plan for our working future. Most times, these bad jobs are chock full of learning that we need to absorb in order to make better future decisions that will help us find work that has meaning and purpose. Or else, we risk falling into the same situation again and again (think Bill Murray’s plight in Groundhog Day).

If you’re in a spot where you’re edging toward the end of the plank and thinking about leaping for another ship, take some time to answer the questions posed above. Take full advantage of the wisdom and experience that this experience is offering you.

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  • Hi Chris…I’ve been writing a lot about this lately, both at Lifehack and my own site. Can you love the one you’re with before you move on? Can you take personal responsibility (not blame or guilt) for what you’d like to be present in your work and generate it?

    (BTW, just quoted you and Steve Roesler in the same post, very much aligned with your post here.)

    Thanks for your continuing inspiration.

  • Hiya, Lisa…anytime I’m associated with Steve, I’m in very good company. And thanks for the reference back at Lifehack…I appreciate it.

    While I’m on my week-long journey in OH and WV, I’m reading William Bridges’s Transitions. It’s been on my to-read list for a while and I’d recommend it to anyone who is facing a profound change in their life. The most significant takeaway from the first few chapters is that we don’t spend nearly enough time doing the hard internal emotional/psychological work that’s necessary for a true transition. Definitely more to come…

  • Hey Chris,

    Had a few “lousy situations” occur with my job over the past few years and I am therefore in the middle of making some important decisions. This post is a great reminder of regaining perspective and not making any hasty moves.



  • Steve, best wishes in your decisions. Sometimes these “lousy situations” do happen for a purpose. I know that some of my own lousy situations have reminded me of the importance of keeping my head up and eyes open for opportunity. They can give a good swift kick to our complacency which may be just the message we need to hear.

    Let me know if I can be a sounding board or help in any other way.

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