Through my 20’s, I was the poster girl for the GenX job jumper. It wasn’t until my early 30’s when, tired of jumping, I completed a career management coaching program and did an exercise to uncover my “values”. My friend John, who debriefed the result, said words that hit a deep chord with me and explained so many reasons as to why I was struggling in my then-role:
“You’re going to need a very high degree of autonomy to be happy in the long run.”
Throughout my career, my path had looked something like this (give or take a few months):
Year one… join company, learn as much as possible, listen to and respect my boss, somehow become a star employee.
Year two… start wishing that my boss would leave me the hell alone now that I know more about the job than s/he does. Become an employee who delivers results but argues with the boss too much.
Year three… leave before getting fired for killing said boss. (Just kidding… usually by year 3 I was bored if I hadn’t been given more things to send me out of my comfort zone and was not wanting to become a pain in the neck to my boss, so moved on).
Once I understand that one of my values is an incredibly high need for autonomy / independence / flexibility, I could recognize how having a boss of any kind was making me crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I had some GREAT bosses… I’m learned a ton from them, but even the best boss was too much for someone who needed to run their own show.
Fast forward six years after that fateful conversation about my values with John and I found myself swinging from the corporate ledge into the world of self-employment.
What I’ve learned about values is that they’re not just “fluffy” words that life coaches and self-help guru’s like to use. They drive our personal decisions and life choices – whether we’re realizing it or not. Once you get clear on what really matters, decision-making becomes so much easier, as does identifying why things at work may be rubbing you the wrong way.
Take some time to explore your values. I guarantee you won’t regret it.