This is a time not of reflection but of infatuation. The weeks of lockdown with infernal family or worse, the months of lockdown without, combined with the arbitrary clicking over to a new year provide fertile soil to nurture our disappointments. The holidays, isolation and working from home have provided the distance to see more clearly what we are lacking in our work.
The natural response is to try to identify roles that will give us what we believe we are both missing and deserving. A danger here is that in identifying the perceived shortcomings in our current situation, can we be sure that the issues are located in our current role, rather than within ourselves? Identifying our current job as failing to provide for our needs provides a potent motivation, justification even, to look elsewhere.
Psychoanalysts might recognise the process of projection at work here. A textbook case of projection in a relationship is where one partner struggles to deal with the feelings of attraction to a third party. These feelings are disturbing, and rather than locating them within themselves, it can be easier to employ the defence mechanism of attributing the cause of the feelings to the hapless partner. “If you were a better person, I wouldn’t have cheated.”
These feelings for another, that stem from faulty thinking and a failure to be sufficiently in touch with one’s own emotions frequently lead to infatuation with the new love interest. This obsessive and intense passion frequently is doomed to be short-lived, given the false premise upon which is it too often based.
“Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs; being purged, a fire sparkling in lover’s eyes,” speaks Romeo of Rosalind, before a certain Juliet turns up. Spoiler alert: it didn’t last.
Similarly, with career change, rather than address our own difficult and conflicted feelings, it is much easier to attribute them to the shortcomings of our current work. This frequently is accompanied by a kind of infatuation for a new role that, if only it were ours, it would solve many of our problems and lead to greater happiness. A variety of cognitive biases can operate, including selective blindness, where we fail to weigh appropriately both the positive and negative elements in both our current and desired roles.
It doesn’t help to stymy our infatuation, when surrounded by facile rhetoric about following our passions. Add in the acute awareness of the passage of time that a new year brings, and our urge to act can be overwhelming. Trying to reason with, or encourage a more cautious approach from the infatuated job-changer, presents as much of a challenge as trying to reason with the person blindly infatuated with another.
While of course, genuine dissatisfaction with a current role is good reason to switch, before reaching that conclusion it is worth asking whether there are things within that we need to address that may provide a better outcome than cutting and running. Unfortunately, that can prove to be too much like hard work for some, especially when infatuation can feel so exciting and life affirming.
Jim Bright, FAPS is Professor of Career Education and Development at ACU and owns Bright and Associates, a Career Management Consultancy. Email to [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DrJimBright
For all the latest Business News Click Here