This is a guest post by Ben Fanning.
There is a quit alternative, pause before you leave your job. Transform your current job into a job you love by engaging with its full potential, marshaling the retargets around you, and seizing the opportunities that are there for the taking, as I explain in The Quit Alternative: The Blueprint for Creating the Job You Love…Without Quitting.
A lot of employees (your’s truly too) get stuck fantasizing about what life would be like if we all just quit, but life on the other side may not be as good as advertised.
Here’s how a championship football coach taught me this lesson…
How Coach Nick Saban Grabbed My Attention
I once saw an interview with Alabama head football coach, Nick Saban, winner of multiple college football national championships. He’s coached for a lot of teams and even had a reputation as a bit of a job hopper. He’s jumped around from the NFL to college football, back to the NFL and back to college. His last stop was the University of Alabama. He’s learned a lot about career development in the process.
The reporter asked about his assistant coaches who were heading to other jobs, and he responded, “Like my dad used to say, the grass is always greener on top of the septic tank.”
This means that other opportunities frequently look better than staying where you are, but once you arrive at the new place and dig in, you’ll discover the same problems or worse than what you’ve left.
You might be better off to double down on the investment you’re making in the job you have.
Admittedly, when you’re day-dreaming about a new job, you may overlook the value of staying with your organization, beyond that paycheck and insurance. Here are the top 10 reasons to stay:
- Leverage: The longer you stay in a job, and the more wins you amass, the more trust and credits you have with which to negotiate on your own behalf. This leverage is helpful in requesting training, flexible work hours, modified work roles, assignment to exciting projects, and so on.
- Ease: Red tape abounds in any organizational environment, but once you know a company, you know how to make things happen. At a new company you can expect to get bogged down for a while in alien systems and processes.
- Social Status: You are more than your job title, but don’t underestimate the perks of status, like the ease of introducing yourself at events or getting your LinkedIn invitations accepted.
- Trust: When you work in an organization for a long time, you have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships. Being surrounded by a group of trusted colleagues is a wonderful experience and powerful motivation to stick around.
- Independence: The first months in a new workplace are filled with learning the basics and asking questions at every turn. It’s a much better feeling to be the one who knows the job from A to Z.
- Confidence: It’s a confidence builder to be the expert, rather than the disoriented new person.
- Historical Knowledge: “Knowing where the bodies are buried.” When you have history in a workplace, you know which projects are black holes, and which offer real opportunities.
- Time-Off: Years of service drives annual leave at many companies. At a new company, you’ll have to start over.
- 401(k) Vesting – 401(k) matching often depends on years of service too. Matching may only begin after a set period, and some companies increase the matching the longer you stay. If you invest in them, they invest in you.
- Peace of Mind: Changing jobs creates massive personal disruption and emotional costs, even if it increases your income.
You could leave your job and put your energy into creating the job you love somewhere else, but it might be smarter to capitalize on the opportunities where you are.
Sure, you may be thinking, I know there are all these benefits to staying where I am, but I still hate my job. I don’t want to do this for another day, let alone the rest of my life.
We all have our fantasies about what we could only do if we left this place. But the reality is that often these fantasies simply lead to another manifestation of more of the same frustration—just at a different office.
So when you find yourself asking, “Should I stay or leave?” consider a more empowering alternative.
A More Empowering Alternative to the “Stay or Leave” Question
For a minute, shake yourself out of the internal debate of “should I stay or leave” because the narrowness of this perspective is a trap.
Staying implies that you’ve accepted the status quo and decided to put up with the same job frustrations. Leaving implies that the next job will turn out better.
But a superior solution usually lies between those perspectives, and it turns out that where you are is the best place for you to make a stand.
When you decide to engage with the potential of your current job and cultivate the work that inspires you, good stuff happens.
Now, it won’t necessarily happen like this for everyone, and it certainly won’t happen overnight, but within six months, concrete results showed up for me:
- I received three awards from Executive Leadership for my leadership and results. Two of those awards came with financial rewards. (Note that in the previous five years with the same organization, I’d received zero recognition.)
- I was featured for the first time in our organization’s newsletter, distributed to 100,000 employees, for results achieved on a major project.
- I received my biggest annual bonus ever and moved into a higher performing category in the organization, positioning me for promotion.
- My relationship and trust with the boss improved. We agreed to a more flexible work schedule and relocation to the city of my dreams.
- My staff meetings became much more fun and productive.
And my home life improved tremendously. I came home with renewed energy and excitement to share my “wins” for the day with my family—a routine we still have today. I began exercising again and living a healthier life.
The momentum carried me into new territory, as I began helping others through coaching, speaking, and blogging—activities that had never crossed my mind before.
I began to notice how many people showed up to work frustrated, “sleep working” through their days, scared about losing their jobs, and too scared to do anything about it.
I realized that I could help. These people are ultimately why wrote, The Quit Alternative.
So Stay, but Stay Differently
So the grass is always greener on top of the septic tank. When you hear that inner voice asking, “Should I stay or leave?”…try first focusing on the more empowering alternative, “how you might stay but stay differently?”
This article is an excerpt adapted by Ben Fanning from his forthcoming book, The Quit Alternative: The Blueprint for Creating the Job You Love….Without Quitting. Ben will be giving away a limited number of digital copies at launch time. To get notified when they’re available, sign up at http://benfanning.com/getnotified