Knowing when it's time to leave
I never believed in a job for life. My first career choice was made on the basis of what I enjoyed doing as child. All I could think of at the time was that I enjoyed collecting foreign coins. Looking back now, that coin collection was probably more the result of my love of travel than my interest in finance. Those coins though, kick-started my banking career. It was one of the best work experiences I’ve ever had. It just goes to show that quick decisions can sometimes be the best ones.
Fast track to today and what I’ve discovered about myself is I love variety, adventure, challenge, learning, development and growth. Each career ending came after I’d achieved a goal or produced something. It was at this point that the learning stopped for me.
I used to tell myself ‘I get bored easily’, ‘I’m a dreamer’, ‘I can’t stick at one thing’. Then this zen Buddhist riddle spoke to me:
Q: How long should you stay at something?
A: However long it takes to get what you came for.
Q: How do you decide what you came for?
A: You don’t, you discover it.
Q: How do you discover it?
A: You notice what isn’t there anymore when you feel like leaving.
What I now know is that I’m a ‘scanner’. I light up when I get involved in anything new. I love producing something and helping others, and I thrive on variety and change. You see scanners are smart and multi-talented. They are divergent thinkers.
If this sounds like you:
- Make a list of all your achievements and past interests and note down what led you to stop.
- Understand what the reward was. It might be challenging yourself, creating/producing something, helping others, setting something up from scratch.
- What went away? Was it the enjoyment, the challenge?
- If/when you start to feel like a new challenge, observe anything that attracts your attention, notice when you’re doing something you really enjoy and make a note of the ideas that come into your head.
Whilst not everything you love has to be a career, do what fulfils and interests you. When you’ve got your reward, move on. It makes the world a more interesting place to be.
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