Everything in life is 50/50, yin and yang. But how does that apply to our careers? Are we supposed to settle? Should we be searching for a job that hits all the marks? How do you know when you are chasing the dragon and when you should accept shortcomings as simply “a part of life?” The answer lies simply in seeing a job’s short-comings with clear eyes and making a choice.
For example, I love lifting weights. I try to go to the gym as often as I can, which generally is not as often as I would like. I love lifting until my muscles are jello-y and my legs shake. I love going home and soaking in epsom salts and knowing that tomorrow is going to be rough. I love walking around like I got hit by a bus after leg day and I love when it hurts to laugh because I killed my abs the day before. I love it for the trade off — the endorphins during the workout and the physical changes I see over time. Absent those days of soreness, I wouldn’t have any of those benefits.
I recently had a client tell me how much she loves the majority of her work. She loves the people she works with and she loves the challenge. But there was a portion of her work that she didn’t like. Specifically, she didn’t like the people she had to work with during the other parts of her day. She came to me wanting me to support her to understand if it was time for her to move on.
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As you may have discovered by now, I’m not a big advocate for doing anything until you have squeezed all the juice out of your current experience. In my opinion, moving on implies that you have learned the lessons available to you in that moment of your life and, having done that, you are off in search of a new experience.
None of us want to run scared from job to job but usually we are doing just that. Rather than facing that horrible boss and flexing your skills of honesty and vulnerability, we throw in the towel and move on to the next thing. We run from that negative experience and those feelings of embarrassment, frustration, anger, and disappointment. We don’t want to experience those emotions and we don’t want to rise up to those challenges, so we jump ship. We run away from them. Time and time again I have seen women do just that only to find that challenge show up in a different form in their next experience.
It is going to be hard.
As with lifting weights, you have to take the bad with the good. There will be pains that accompany your successes. It is going to be challenging and there are going to be days/projects/humans that you don’t like. And that is okay. That is not a reason to leave.
When we know we are signing up for a struggle, at least part of the time, the only thing we have to evaluate is whether our current position provides us the types of challenges that we WANT in our lives. The goal is not to get to a job without any challenges (spoiler: it doesn’t exist), the goal is to sign up for a life with the types of challenges you want. The types of challenges you are committed to tackling. If your current battles aren’t ones you see as worthy, then maybe it is time for a new challenge. But don’t leave because a challenge exists, leave because it’s not the kind of challenge you WANT in your life.
For instance, I know that in order to be fit and healthy and sane, I need to work out several times a week. I know it’s not always going to be fun and I know I’m not always going to look forward to it. Instead, I choose the types of challenges I’m willing to endure–dance classes, interval training, sprints, step aerobics YES. Kickboxing or Pilates, not for me.
I accept that it will be dreadful at times but it will be MY kind of dreadful.
For my client, the most important question I asked her was “what if nothing is wrong here? What if it’s okay that you don’t love every aspect of your job? Then what?” When we stop seeing the 50/50 as a problem that needs to be fixed, we can focus on accepting those aspects of our reality and stop fighting them. Only when we stop fighting reality can we allow the dust to settle and take real stock of our lives and authentically decide “what next?” The answer to that question will be very different once you accept the *bad* parts of your job and stop focusing all your energies on things/people/aspects that are beyond your control to change.
Living with and handling problems is part of what it means for life to be 50/50.
It’s part of what it means to be human.
The choice, then, is to decide what types of problems you are willing to deal with in your career. If a mansplaining boss isn’t the type of challenge you are invested in working through then, by all means, move along, knowing there will be other similar challenges wherever you go. There is no unicorn job out there waiting for you.
So, having accepted the 50/50, how do you know when it’s okay to accept the 50% that sucks or when it’s time to move on: you simply decide. You simply decide based upon reasons that are honest and authentic to you and you like your reasoning. That’s it. If you don’t want to fight the battle to make things better at your current job, just acknowledge it. Own it and know that lesson will be waiting for you in another rendition later on.
Accepting that the perfect job does not exist is only part of the battle. The other part requires us to consider the types of challenges we DO want in life. Once you make that decision–once you CHOOSE your mansplaining boss–it becomes so much easier to just roll with the 50/50 because it’s YOUR kind of 50/50.