In yesterday's post, I described a few tips for finding a new job. That posting assumed you already knew you wanted a new job. But how to you get to the point of deciding it's time to move on? It's not necessarily an easy thing to do especially if you have a lot of time and effort invested in your current employer or if you particularly like the people you work with. Reassessing a lot of factors regarding your job can often seem like a daunting task, especially if you have a certain bias against it, maybe you've always wanted a different position or thinking about applying to one of those software engineer jobs in New York, either way, you have to take into a lot of considerations before making big decisions. The following describes one way to evaluate your current situation, but be warned that I'm about to get all metaphorical on you.
I don't like the winter much. Too bad really as I happen to live in an area that is now getting cold and will soon be covered in snow. And, coincidentally, I'll be starting a new job shortly. Now you may be wondering how snow and a new job relate to each other. Well, here goes…
Imagine a small ball of snow at the top of a very, very high mountain and that this bit of snow represents your experiences at a company. At first, your experiences are quite limited which is why there's just a small amount of snow. But as this ball of snow rolls down the mountain, other snow sticks to it and it grows in size. All is good as this ever increasing ball of snow represents good times at your job.
Sometimes though, the ball of snow hits an ice patch. This isn't so bad since the snowball just keeps on rolling. It just doesn't get any bigger because the ice is quite firmly stuck to the ground. All jobs include some aspect of routine work (ice) and that's to be expected.
Worse than ice is rock which the ball of snow may encounter from time to time. These rocks dig in to the ball of snow and get carried away with it as it rolls down the mountain. These rocks represent bad days at work. The more rocks, the more bad days. The bigger the rocks, the greater the toll on you that those days extract. Still, all is not lost since these rocks may simply be specs in an otherwise beautiful core of pure snow. And more often than not, the weather forecast calls for more of the fluffy stuff.
So what do you do with this ball of snow? You use it to assess your current job so that you can plot an appropriate course. Every 6 months, put an imaginary wall in front of your imaginary ball of snow. This of course will result in an imaginary crash and crumbling of the ball of snow.
- If you see more snow than anything else, you're probably in a good job. Stick with it.
- If you see a lot of rocks strewn about, you may not be in a good job. Stick with it for now so that you don't make hasty decisions.
- If there isn't much snow or rock because the ball of snow was tiny i.e. ice-covered mountain, you may not be getting much out of your job. Still, it's been just 6 months so hang in there a bit longer.
Now take a bit of the snow from your snowball and carry it back up the mountain (or take the gondola if you happen to be close to it). Compress the snow in your hands and send it down the mountain once again. Six months later, bring back the wall and examine the second mixture of snow and rock.
- Again, if you see more snow than anything else, you're probably in a good job. Stick with it.
- If you see a lot of rocks strewn about AND you saw a lot of rocks the first time around, your job might no longer be a good fit for you. Consider taking your snow to another mountain. False hope is a waste of your time.
- If there isn't much snow or rock because the ball of snow was tiny, you may have already peaked at your job. If it doesn't look like there's change coming, you may want to consider changing something yourself.
Repeat this exercise for as long as you work. Be particularly mindful of tiny balls of snow. And it makes perfect sense that tasks you once considered snow eventually feel more like ice. That's a sign that you've been pigeonholed. While it can be easy to just coast, you should always be on the lookout for bigger and better things. Even rocks can be better than ice since, even though you may be miserable, you'll probably learn a lot. And you'll want to let bad times play themselves out for a bit because they sometimes bring with them great rewards.
So what did I find with my pile of snow? Not much really, and that was the problem. True, there were few rocks which is usually a good sign, but there also wasn't much snow. And the mountain looked like it would remain icy for a while. So off to a new mountain with me!
And that is what snow has to do with my new job. I wish all of you luck with your careers. Now back to our regularly scheduled program…