Posts Tagged new job

Regret and Resolve – A Different Kind of New Year’s Hangover

Many people wake up a day or two after New Year’s Day with a familiar but different type of hangover. They often experience the same hangover each year at the same time, but do nothing to prevent it. While headaches and upset stomachs are symptoms of alcohol-induced hangovers, the hangover I’m talking about is marked by regret and resolve, and it’s caused by misusing the previous year.

People suffering from this type of hangover call my office seeking a professional change, and they clog up my gym as they seek a physical change. Both happen much more frequently at the beginning of the year and all but disappear by summer. Why is that?

New Year – New Day

Despite the weather in most locales, January is a time of hope and optimism. Many have just spent at least a few moments in introspection through the holidays, and few are completely happy with the results of the past year. The new year represents an opportunity to erase past failures and to make positive changes. That’s what drives people to pick up the phone and call me.

My role as a recruiter, AKA headhunter, is to find my clients the talent they need in order to be successful. This puts me in touch with highly talented and successful people every day of the work week. Most tell me that they’re not interested in a professional change, but I believe that many of them are being dishonest. They might desire a change, but they aren’t ready to commit to one. Often, when are ready to commit to a change, weeks, months or years later, the opportunity I brought to them isn’t available.

Making a change is difficult. Try sitting in a different spot at church or in a classroom or meeting room. Most of us, myself included, don’t want to do it. We sit where we sit, and that is it. Moving from our traditional spot exposes us to uncertainty, and uncertainty is almost always uncomfortable. When we struggle with a discomfort as benign as switching seats, how are we going to do when facing a much more daunting discomfort, like switching jobs? Most of us are going to say that we’re not interested and continue on our not-so-merry way.

When we resist making changes that we think might benefit us, we might successfully avoid discomfort, but we can’t dodge regret. We might condition ourselves to live with regret, but it doesn’t go away without change. Most of us will wait until the discomfort of regret exceeds the discomfort of change before we will commit to change.

The people who call me in January seeking a professional change didn’t just wake up and realize that they needed to do something different in order to achieve their goals; they have likely been contemplating the call for months or maybe even years before they actually pick up the phone. The new year on the calendar simply amplified the discomfort of regret. We shouldn’t have to wait for a new year to create a better situation for ourselves.

Each day represents an opportunity to make positive changes, and there are many more new days than new years. Instead of setting a New Year’s resolution, consider setting a New Day’s Resolution. If you woke up this morning still suffering from the regret hangover, do something today to make tomorrow’s morning better. You won’t regret it.


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Will You Be Doing THAT Next Year?

Traditionally, I start the new year off with a New Year’s resolution column, but I didn’t do it this year. Not that I don’t think resolutions aren’t important – it was a resolution that started this blog – it’s that very few people seem interested in those columns. Those that I’ve written rank near the bottom in page views by my readership. It seems that not many want to think about resolutions. Why’s that?

Resolutions reflect change, and that makes most of us very uncomfortable. Even though we know that we have room for growth, and most of want to grow, nearly all of us want to avoid the discomfort of change. This makes it difficult for us to even start the process of living up to our New Year’s resolutions. It’s like we’re standing at the base of a beautiful mountain that we’ve always wanted to climb, but fear of the journey keeps us from taking the first step.

I’ve found that the best way to motivate positive change is to project a year or so ahead. To follow the mountain analogy, picture yourself either at the top or nearing the top of the mountain. Then, picture yourself looking down at your former self who still hasn’t moved. While you might be sore and a little tired from the journey, your former self is in even worse condition – filled with envy and regret – seeing where he could have been if only he had started the journey.

Take that thought to your professional situation. Are you where you were last year, standing at the bottom of the mountain? Is it where you want to be? Is it where you want to be next year? For most of us, the answers to those questions are yes, no and no, but that reality is not easy to admit.

Every day, as a recruiter, I talk to people who are dishonest about their career satisfaction. Although employment surveys tell us that nearly half of all employees are considering a job change, few will admit to it and even fewer will pursue the change, because they don’t want to invite that discomfort into their lives. It’s a lot easier to stand at the bottom of the mountain and watch someone else put themselves through the discomfort of the climb. If they slip and fall, you can pat yourself on the back for standing still. The problem is: standing gets you nowhere.

We can choose comfort and regret or discomfort and growth in almost all aspects of our lives. For several years, I planned to join Toastmasters to work on my public speaking. Months and years passed with me standing at the bottom of the mountain before I sought out a club near my office. The pain of regret finally overtook the allure of comfort, and I decided to give up one lunch per week and the hours needed to prepare my speeches, in order to achieve the personal growth that I desired. Less than a year in, I was able to look down from that mountain and be thankful that I wasn’t still standing at the bottom.

Try that with something that you have been intending to do. Send a resume to that company you’ve admired for a position you’ve desired. Enroll in a college program that you know is key to your professional goals. Join a gym and start sculpting the body that you’ll be proud to see in the mirror. When next year comes, be standing ON the mountain, not at the bottom.


Note: This entry marks the sixth year of my commitment to writing a monthly blog. For 60 consecutive months, I’ve written at least one column, publishing it on the Monday closest to the 15th. I’ve truly enjoyed the exercise, and the encouragement that I get from readers keeps me banging away at the keyboard. Thanks for the support.

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Getting Stuck in Your Own Tracks?

Many of us will never reach our full potential because we’re afraid to change. We stay in jobs that are going nowhere, and in relationships that are unfulfilling. We continue habits that we know jeopardize our health and happiness. We wall off personal development with excuses. We spurn opportunities to grow. All because we’re afraid to change.

Change evokes anxiety. Routine is comforting. It’s why you are you more relaxed at home in your recliner than trying to make a connecting flight on a snowy day. You might hate your job, but you know where to park and when to leave to beat traffic. That girlfriend who doesn’t like your friends, family or hobbies? At least you don’t have to worry about finding a date on a Saturday night.

Fear of change can paralyze us, and we’re not always in the optimal spot when it does.

As the owner of a recruiting company, I see fear of change almost daily. Our mission is to find highly qualified talent for our clients, which means that highly qualified talent has to change jobs. Employment surveys tell us that most people are considering a professional change, but that very few follow through, and our experience confirms this. Fear of change often stands in the way of a career transition.

Our initial contact with a prospective candidate is designed to allow us to understand his motivations, i.e. How happy is he with his role, his work/life balance, his boss, his income, his career path? Does he daydream of something better, and if so, what does that look like? If he is perfectly content or won’t admit that he isn’t, the conversation ends there, but it rarely does. Most people are looking for something better. Actually moving toward something better is not as easy.

Many candidates discover a new tolerance of their job and their employer in the latter stages of accepting a new position. All of the pain we uncovered in the initial conversation begins to seem manageable, especially when compared to the POTENTIAL pain of change.

All too often, we focus on potential negatives, rather than potential positives. We then compare a rosy version of our current status to potential negatives, rather than potential positives of a change. When evaluating a new job, instead of the promise of career advancement, we focus on the fear that maybe we won’t like the new boss. Instead of dreaming about where the career move could put us in five years, we create nightmare scenarios of job loss. Maybe our career path is stalled, but our current job has predictability and stability. Isn’t it possible that the new job could have all of this?

You have to have faith to make a change. Most times, we don’t need, and won’t have the precision of a bridge-builder or brain surgeon when contemplating change. We have to accept risk and a certain lack of information with most change. Most change doesn’t come with guarantees.

You have to have courage to make a change. I still remember my first time on the high diving board at the pool when I was a kid. It was a lot higher and scarier than I thought it would be, and I was extremely tempted to back down, even though I knew my friends would taunt me mercilessly. I jumped, because I told myself that I would jump – that jumping was something I wanted to do and yearned to do. I didn’t want to let fear take that excitement from me.

You have to have commitment to make a change. Many experience regret right after making a change. Most experience a temptation to go back. I see this at my gym at the beginning of every year. January starts with an influx of new members, because deciding to add exercise to your daily routine is fairly easy. Getting to the gym is easy too, at least at the beginning, so the gym is still fairly full in February. By March, however, mostly only the gym regulars remain. It takes commitment to overcome the urge to give up, while you struggle with the unfamiliarity and uncertainty of change.

The end of the year is a great time to consider change. In a few short weeks, we’ll be given a new year to make the changes we’ve always thought about. Are you ready to make this the year of positive change?

For a unique perspective on change, view a video of a Jim Carrey graduation speech.
“So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality.” – Jim Carrey –

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