I’ve been thinking more about how good employees are willing to quit. It’s a big topic, and one that’s uncomfortable a lot of the time – most of us like to believe, deep down, that we’ve found a career that will last forever, we’ll always be happy, and we’ll never need or want to leave because we’ve got life figured out now, and nothing will ever change.
So we approach professional life with a couple of assumptions:
- We should be employed all the time.
- Outside of egregious offenses, we should stay at a single employer.
I’d argue that both of these are false – or maybe not false in the sense that the opposite is true (That people should actively seek unemployment, and should hop from job to job for no reason), just means that these assumptions are invalid.
Any relationship works best when all parties are on equal footing. By accepting either or both of these assumptions, the employee starts at a disadvantage – assuming that they should always be employed (as opposed to self employed, or, you know, bummin’ around) and that leaving a job requires valid cause means at our most basic, we assume we need an employer. This taints the relationship from the start.
Working under these assumptions, the question to ask is “Why should I leave”? I think the correct question to ask is “Why should I stay”?
Obligation is the wrong reason to do almost anything, and assuming that the default is to stay in a job – to stay at an employer because you’ve been there for a while, because you owe them something, etc – is obligation. It doesn’t get the best work out of anyone, and it breeds resentment, left unchecked.
The beautiful thing is that a shift in perspective here – going from the vague feelings of obligation and guilt that your job conjures because you think you’re supposed to be there, to the acknowledgement that you’re there for a reason: Maybe you really enjoy the work, or the people you work with, or you’re learning a lot, or maybe you just need the money (which is a completely valid reason to stay at a job) – can change your attitude completely, and clarify in your own head what you’re doing.
Alternatively, maybe you realize that there is no good reason to stay – that you really are just staying out of obligation, or because your mom likes to tell her friends that you’re important because of your title. In which case, you can acknowledge that it’s perfectly acceptable to go figure something else out. You don’t need a boss who sexually harasses you, or a job offer for twice as much money elsewhere – you just need an acknowledgement that there’s no good reason to stay.
Figure out why you do what you do. It’s important. It takes a lot of your time, and you only have so much. You owe it to yourself to be honest about why you’re spending it the way you are.