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Monday Musings: for the chronic job hoppers

I am unabashedly a reformed chronic job hopper. I have quit more jobs than I can count on two hands. While I can weave it into a narrative that shuts down any prospective employers' alarm bells, here's the cold, bitter truth: I used to quit jobs because I thought that the job was the problem. More specifically, I blamed bosses, organizations, commutes, and even annoying colleagues. If I could just get a different job, with a different boss, in a different company, with better colleagues and a better commute, I'd be fine.

I'm sure you know where this is going. I'd start a new job, and once the honeymoon period wore off, I'd find myself right back where I started: frustrated that my ideas weren't being heard, pointing out all the problems with everything and everyone around me, and whining incessantly about how 'the company' never seemed to be focused on the 'right things'. Before I knew it, I'd be looking for yet another job.

And repeat.

I don't want to tell you how many years I spent in this pattern, blissfully unaware of one tough-to-swallow detail: I was actually the problem.  I am so thankful for the take-no-bullshit coach who helped me see this just three years ago. Since then, I've done a lot of soul searching, and here is what I've learned: work cannot be your source of unhappiness any more than it can be your source of happiness.

Your happiness is internally derived. Whether you are happy or unhappy at work has a lot less to do with your actual job, and a lot more to do with your beliefs about work, your own inner state, and how you choose to interpret and respond to what you experience at work everyday. 

So if you find yourself frequently hating your job or if you've had the groundhog day experience of ending up a new job that turned out to be just like your old job, first and foremost: don't beat yourself up about it. Awareness is the first step in evolving your relationship with yourself and your work.  Second, here are some questions that can help you dig deeper into your patterns:

  • Who or what have I most often blamed or seen as the cause of my negative workplace experiences? What triggered me about these people or experiences? What part of my identity was I protecting by blaming others for my unhappiness?

  • What beliefs do I have about what work 'should be' like? How do I typically react when the workplace hasn't fit my vision of how things 'should be'? What feels risky about letting go of all my 'shoulds'?

  • What are the most common patterns that I end up reliving every time I change jobs? Where else do I see these patterns in my life? What can these patterns tell me about myself?

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