What to do when you’re in a Goldilocks job

If you’ve ever been in a conversation about your work, and heard yourself say the words, “But I’m making so much money,” I have bad news for you.

You are in the wrong job.

No further questions.

Really.

This one statement is really enough for me to tell.

It’s not the making money part that’s the problem, of course. It’s the word “but.”

In my work with ambitious, high-achieving women, who are trying to manage the complexity of big contributions at work with busy family lives, “but” is one word I hear a lot.

Usually when someone says it, it’s preceded by:

 “I don’t really love what I’m doing…”

And then a pause.

And then the BUT.

…but I’m making so much money.

…but I have a lot of flexibility.

…but I have great benefits.

…but I worked so hard to get here.

…but other people would kill for this job.

…but this is what I went to school for.

And then a long sigh of resignation.

So I can’t leave.

Really, though? Is that even true?

The truth is you absolutely – 100% – for sure – no doubt about it –  can leave. You’re just choosing not to.

Maybe you don’t like the consequences that leaving would bring. Maybe you’re scared.

Or maybe you’re just a little too comfortable where you are.

I call that a Goldilocks job.

In a Goldilocks job…it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, but it’s certainly not just right. 

And who wants that?

But I can’t leave.

Listen, telling yourself you can’t leave is not only untrue, it’s psychologically dangerous. It takes you out of agency, and creates a false and limiting belief that you have no choice in the matter. No control. But you do.

When you hear yourself rationalizing why you’re staying in a job you don’t like, don’t let out that deep sigh of resignation and move on with your day.

Instead, tune in to what you’re really saying.

If you always say “But I make so much money,” what that tells you is that you like to make (a lot of) money or need to make (a lot of) money. Great! Go look into one of the 4 million other  jobs that also pay a lot of money until you find one that you would love doing!

If you always say “But I have a ton of flexibility,” then congratulations. You’ve just learned that flexibility matters to you! Protect for it in your next role, but don’t act like you’ve already taken the one and only job on earth that provides that flexibility.

Most often, when you’re saying “I can’t leave,” you haven’t let yourself think it all the way through. You’ve made assumptions that may be true, but most likely aren’t. And you’re stuck.

It’s easier to say “I can’t leave” than to say “I choose not to.” 

But staying in a job you don’t love is a choice. If you’re going to make that choice, then:

1) Call it what it is. Start saying, “I’m choosing to stay in a job I don’t love.”

2) Get clear about what you really want and what you’re willing to do to get it

And then?

Go explore your options, Goldilocks, and try a few on for size. You may find that one is just right. 

 

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