I’ve been having a lot of discussions with people lately that are looking for a new job. Some don’t have a job and are looking, but many of them have jobs and are just looking for something different or something better. I always find these situations challenging because I feel this incessant need to fix their problem (ie. a job). When I can it feels amazing and when I can’t it makes me sad.
The challenge with all of this is that jobs are fickle things. Timing matters a lot when it comes to finding the right job. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard people talk about their careers and how they felt blessed (or lucky) that the perfect job came up at just the perfect time. It’s great when this perfect timing happens for both employer and job seeker.
While it’s beautiful when perfect timing happens, I’ve heard even more stories from people who have to really grind it out and be patient as they search for the perfect job. One challenge is that in hindsight people usually look back and remember all the good that happened once they got the job and how whatever job they got was perfect timing even if the reality was that they waited a long time and they were extremely frustrated waiting for that perfect job. It’s easy to create a revisionist history in our mind that only remembers the good and not the bad.
Related to this idea is how many people think they want a new job, but don’t realize how good their current job is for them. It’s a principle we’ve talked about regularly on this blog. Change doesn’t always mean that it will be better. To use a phrase everyone is familiar with, the grass is always greener on the other side. As we look at our current position we can often only see the bad, but when we look at other positions we can only ever see the good. If you have that mindset, you likely won’t be happy in any position.
I saw this first hand in my career. I’d applied for a position as a professor in Hawaii. Sounds like the dream job right? Well, we’d lived in Hawaii before and so we knew the goods and bads of living there. As I went through the interview process, my wife and I focused almost completely on the great things we’d have if I got the job and we moved back to Hawaii. It was amazing how we created a bit of a reality vortex which ignored all the bad things. Not to mention, we remembered all the bad things of our current situation.
Long story short, I ended up not getting the job as a professor. Once that happened, my wife and I quickly started to remember all the bad things about living in Hawaii (yes, there are bad things, believe me). Upon further reflection, moving to Hawaii would have been an awful choice for my family, so I was lucky that I didn’t get the job. However, we’d been so focused on the good of the alternative that we ignored the bad and forgot the good we already had where we were.
The nice ending to this story is that shortly after not getting that job in Hawaii I decided to quit my day job and just work for myself as a full-time blogger. Healthcare Scene and this blog wouldn’t be here today if I’d gotten that job in Hawaii. Was that perfect timing? I’m not so sure, but I do think life has a way of working out if you work hard and focus on becoming great at something you enjoy. We just sometimes have to be patient as we wait for the timing to be right before we make a change.