Your Job is One Part of a Larger System

I work in Training (for my day job) and much of my work is really at its heart about change management – identifying the need for change, laying the groundwork for change, planning for change, communicating about change, and training people to implement the change. This requires a holistic perspective. Seeing how people, projects, workflow, and resources influence and affect one another. Seeing things as part of a system.

It makes me think about how you need to view your career as part of a system, too.

Your job is not separate from your personal goals, your friends / family life – because we all have only one pile of time out of which all of that has to come.

And because, let’s face it, as depressing as it is, we spend most of our time at work, and the reason we do that is so we can meet not just our basic financial needs but also hopefully work towards our financial goals. So it’s all interconnected.

I find that my clients especially need to be reminded of this. To step back and consider the bigger picture when they are miserable at their current job and/or when they are considering a new job offer.

When you’re working at a job you hate for whatever reason, it’s so easy to say that everything about it sucks. Let’s say you have a micromanager. That truly is awful (although unfortunately, you probably already know that from experience!) But what IF the bigger picture shows that: your micromanaging boss is retiring in 9 months, and that your pay is better than equivalent positions elsewhere, so you’re making faster progress on paying down debt? And sure, your benefits aren’t the best, but at least you have employer match for your 401(k)? And you never work a moment over 40 hours/week, leaving you time to learn tennis or help your kids with homework?

And on the flip side, if you’re lucky enough to be faced with a job offer, this “systems” level view should be part of your go-no go decision making. Maybe this is just the move you’ve been looking for to take on a bigger role, prove that you can handle bigger responsibilities, and earn more! But does that also come with: an expectation that you be attending lots of after-hours events? And if you’re going to be the public face of the organization, what about upping your wardrobe, too? That’s not free. Will there be lots more travel? And if so, does your new salary offset the extra child or adult-care costs that you’ll now need someone to cover? Finally, how will it affect personal goals? Will you still have time & energy to train for that half-marathon that has been lingering on your to-do list?

You really have to think about the ripple effects of change at a systems-level when you are trying to change your job.

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