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[MILLENNIALS IN THE WORKPLACE] When to Buckle Down and When to Jump Ship.

August 11, 2017

Ever had a job that you hated? One where your talents and proclivities were not recognized or honored? One where you felt like you weren’t being valued, developed, honored, celebrated or paid your worth? Ultimately, as human beings we are not complicated. There are four things we all desire, especially in the workplace:

To know that we are CARED for.
To know that we are NEEDED and that our voices are HEARD.
To know that we are WELCOMED in the space we inhabit.
To know that we have something of value to CONTRIBUTE.

We also want to know that we have leaders who care about us and our development. Not overbearing, micromanaging authoritarian bosses and supervisors. We are really very simple as human beings. But let’s go a layer deeper. We all want to feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment (especially at work). We want coaches, not bosses and dictators. Those who are interested in developing our truest of strengths. We want a life of meaning, clarity and to know that we are succeeding at making a difference. But too often, we graduate and find ourselves in organizations with little interest in our innate talents, proclivities, or personal development and often fail to see the difference we are making, if any.


When you find yourself in this position, is it time to jump ship? Or is it time to dig in your heels, buckle your seatbelt and hang on for the ride? These are the questions we are often internally challenged with at the onset of the early quarter-life crisis. One that makes you question if you made right career choice or if any of your dreams were really valid at all. I can’t tell you how many young millennials that I have worked with who are ready to call it quits, give up on on their careers, their dreams or jump ship because they feel like they aren’t making an impact fast enough, or receiving the nurture and compassion that we all require.


A job, even if it’s the perfect fit and right in the vein of your core passions and talents, is still paying you to achieve their corporate purpose, not your own. And ultimately, your personal purpose is really what you have been craving. It’s that place of true fulfillment where your unique combination of talents, personality, experience and strengths align with opportunities to create an impact. It’s what speaks to you and feeds your soul. We look for it in everything we do and are never satisfied until we find it. We don’t just want our work to matter. We want to matter. There will come a day, where despite how much money you are making or how much fun you are having at work, you will find yourself wanting more. A life beyond the written script and the expected standard. A life full of meaning, adventure and purpose that is custom fit for you. We get out of alignment when we begin expecting these very institutions to supply us with purpose, meaning, and specialized work that impacts the world on a greater scale.


We misalign our expectations when we find ourselves demanding that employers recognize, develop and award us on our talents and strengths, and vision cast our “yellow-brick-road” to happiness when we have failed to clearly define what those things actually are for ourselves. So rather than wasting your time rebelling against the institution or expecting management to change and conform, I believe there is a better use for your energy and effort.

So what do you do when you find yourself at these crossroads? How do you know if it’s time to dig in your heels and buckle up for the ride? Or, if it’s time to jump ship?


What are your reasons for staying? Do you have one? Sometimes we’re just afraid to make another move or transition. Other times we are just twiddling our thumbs, biding our time and hoping that something will change but are usually too lazy or inept to do anything about our situation. I encourage you to get really clear first on what you want.


Oftentimes we can get so caught up in working the vision of our nine-to-five that we begin to forget the original vision that we once had for ourselves. What are your personal goals for your life? And how does that path and the vision of your nine-to-five align? Maybe your day-job is teaching you a particular skills set that you can exercise. Maybe it is allowing you to test market your ideas and skills. Maybe they are providing you with essential leadership training. Or maybe it’s only the means to an end (a.k.a a paycheck).


Every job that I’ve loved or hated, taught me more and more about myself and has shaped up my focus for what I should be doing with my life. Or at the very least what I would refuse to go back to. As I often say, to figure out what you WANT to do, you also have to know what you DON’T want to do. Sometimes a job you hate, supplies you with fire under your tush and is an opportunity to spend your evenings and weekends hustling it out to prepare you for the thing that you really want to do. Sometimes it teaches you what opportunities you should turn down. Other times it can teach you what you’re really made of, your commitment level and fortitude or even provide you with essential connections.


In hindsight, every role has prepped me in some way and now, I don’t regret the time spent. Patience is the key though. But don’t necessarily expect this to happen in just a few months’ time. There will be occasions where with the right skills, mentorship and know-how, that you will be able to fast-track or take quantum leaps in your contribution and impact and even play the superhero who “saves the day”. But making an impact will still require a time investment that most are unwilling and impatient to make. Patience is where most people fail. If you can invest in patience you will be above average.


It is my hope that everyone makes the effort to first gain clarity before making a move. But if you haven’t and are still dissatisfied with the job you have, then I would advise you to find something that you enjoy about your role and stay or find the courage to leave. But never just sit still somewhere and be miserable. If you do decide to take another job, go for something that is emblematic of your career goals or allows you to utilize your greatest strengths. But for this, you still have to be clear on who you are, what you want and what you bring to the table.

Maybe entrepreneurship is in your blood and you desire an opportunity with mentorship built-in to the job package. That may not be made available at a large 50,000+ employee organization. Maybe the private sector or a smaller company is more your speed, where no one-day is the same. One where each day brings new challenges, where ideas are welcomed, brainstorming sessions happen often and your energy and contribution are valued. One where you can grow quickly and be promoted based on your quality of performance and even high-five the CEO as you walk down the hallway. One with an open door policy to ask your biggest questions.



What’s your one thing that you bring to the table? Something that you do better than most? A talent, strength or even a soft sill that others recognize or call on you for often? We all have our something. And our something has more value than you may realize. Maybe you have a nat for organization or bringing order out of chaos. Maybe you have the ability to see ideas and solutions where others can only see problems and imminent doom. Maybe you are full of humor and brighten up the room when you walk in. Maybe you are a teacher at heart with the talent of making difficult things easy to understand. Be it large or small what is your one-thing?