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Why leaving your job might not be the best idea

Why leaving your job might not be the best idea

Leaving your job can be tempting, but staying put rather than looking for a new role for the new year can help avoid overwhelm and empower you  

With the start of the new year, you may have seen one of the myriads of social media job announcements from the people you follow as your scroll through your feed. 

“New year, new job,” so the cliché goes.

When Rebecca Fraser-Thill, a career coach, asks her clients about their ideal timeline for leaving their job, she is often given the answer, “By the new year.”  

With the changing of the year, many want a fresh start to their careers. Perhaps the challenge is appealing, or more money. Maybe a new set of colleagues. Possibly the status of success. 

illustration of man holding money and looking for success

Perhaps you are looking for more money or success

New jobs are exciting—something to be proud of, a topic of conversation. But what if you’re sticking with the same role you’ve had for years? 

When I opened up Twitter after the holidays, my feed exploded with people in my network announcing they were onto greener work pastures. I had made a conscious decision in December to stick with the work I am doing right now, with no career advancements planned. 

In fact, I’m intentionally slowing down with work this year to protect myself from burning out like I did last year. I am sticking with what I know and continuing with work as it is. 

Less people looking for new jobs 

It isn’t just me apparently. A new survey from Totaljobs found that only 8 per cent of Brits were planning to look for a new role as 2023 started. In light of the looming recession, workers are concerned about job security and would rather play it safe where they currently are. 

"In light of the looming recession, workers are concerned about job security"

“It’s natural in times of uncertainty to search for safety,” explained Nicki Bass, a business psychologist at Resilience at Work. “The balance of risk versus reward can feel too great, both financially and psychologically.” 

Protect your mental health 

Bass went on to share how when we are bombarded by “threats”, our fight, flight, or freeze fear responses are activated. “We may be stuck in freeze, unable to make a decision, sub-consciously end up in flight where we avoid decisions, or actively retreating from new experiences and risks, as it feels this way we will not put ourselves at risk,” she said. 

Illustration of woman sitting on happy emoji

Protecting your mental health may mean staying in your current job

If a change of job only adds to the feeling of overwhelm, Bass says it may be best to stay where you are to protect your mental health. 

“Change takes a huge amount of energy and if you are dealing with a lot of other pressures—family illness, money—this energy may not be readily available.” 

What are your motivations?

Even if it isn’t fear that is keeping you in your current job, we live in a culture that conditions us to believe success and a better job are just around the corner, and all we need is the courage to go for it

"We live in a culture that conditions us to believe success is just around the corner"

“It’s important to think about your motivations for wanting to move,” said Bass. “If you are happy with your current role and have strong working relationships, then there is no need to move just because you feel you ‘should’. If you are feeling a little stale or looking for a new challenge, it might be worth investigating what is on offer in your current role; organisations generally want to retain good people too.” 

How to deal with the success of others 

Even if you’ve made up your mind to stay put, the joy-stealer of envy rears its ugly head as soon as the success of others is broadcast. 

I could have had that job if I’d applied for it. 

Surely, I’m more qualified than them. 

They’re forging their way ahead and I’m stuck here, unmoving. 

I’ll never taste that success.   

I’ve made the wrong decision. 

It’s the kind of self-talk that steals all the joy out of life, the very thing you might have been aiming to avoid when you decided not to apply for new jobs. 

Envy

Try not to measure yourself against people you see on social media

“It’s totally natural to compare ourselves to others, particularly if we are dealing with other challenges and we may end up feeling envious or ‘less than’,” said Bass. “The first thing is to recognise that this is a normal human response, so that you don't feel bad for feeling this way too. The second thing is to try and recognise when you are being triggered and notice when that internal narrative starts to get at you.” 

Once you’ve had time to observe what you’re feeling and what is triggering it, Bass described a few ways to boost self-esteem and move away from negative self-talk. She suggests monitoring who you follow on social media, switching attention away from work and recognising work does not define us, and practising gratitude daily to focus attention on what we do have, rather than what we are missing out on. 

Happy to stay in the job you have 

After mindlessly scrolling through Twitter, I eventually closed down my computer, determined not to look anymore at the success of others and instead, recount the reasons I am content to stay in the job I’m at now. 

An "old" job gives a sense of security. You know what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. It’s likely you are just repeating what you know, rather than learning new systems, new people, new processes, new ideas.  

"The new year is a reflective time but it doesn’t have to remind us of all the things we should be changing"

You have a rough idea of the salary you’ll make. You know what your boss is like. You know what your hours are. You know your craft. 

Although the start of the new year is a reflective time, it doesn’t have to remind us of all the things we should be changing, including work. 

“If you are actively choosing to stay in the same role, rather than staying there because you feel unable to move, that can be as empowering as moving roles,” said Bass. “Equally, if you feel caught in a fear response or overwhelm, it is worth focusing on the things that you can control, to help get back in a space where you can reflect and make the right decisions for you.” 

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