Wherever You Go in Your Career, There You Are
Updated: Feb 4, 2021
I love traveling. I have been to 30 countries or more. As a kid, I reveled in reading National Geographic magazines and being transported by the striking images. I believed I had a travel bug from that, however, it was not until my early twenties that I figured something else was going on: I also liked travel because it was a way to escape. I believed I did not have to deal with my feelings if I was in another country engaging in novel experiences. I came to realize that was not true.
How does this apply to your career?
Sometimes we leave positions or jobs because we are running away. It’s easier to find something else than stand up for what we want, advocate for ourselves, or resolve an issue. When we are dissatisfied it’s easy to fantasize that there is something bigger and better than facing the challenge at hand. This is something, mindfulness meditation teacher and author, Jon Kabat-Zinn speaks of in his book Wherever You Go, There You Are. He says that sooner or later the same problems will arise because they are primarily rooted in your patterns of seeing, thinking, and behaving as well as a lack of personal responsibility. The thinking that if you only change your job, relationship, etcetera then it will be good is a trap because you only see your troubles as being outside of you. Essentially, a lesson will repeat itself until learned or as Kabat-Zinn claims, “There is no successful escaping from yourself in the long run, only transformation.”
This said I do believe there are times where conditions are dire, be it systemic discrimination or otherwise, that even if it is addressed legally it may not change the culture or situation of the organization. The dynamic is so embedded or unpredictable that it is difficult to stay. I also believe that if you are moving on because you do not feel it is the right fit, or outgrew it, but are coming from a place where you feel you “turned over every stone” then that’s legitimate as well. Kabat-Zinn says this too:
"The challenge of mindfulness is to work with the very circumstances that you find yourself in - no matter how unpleasant, how discouraging, how limited, how unending and stuck they may appear to be - and to make sure that you have done everything in your power to use their energies to transform yourself before you decide to cut your losses and move on. It is right here that the real work needs to happen."[i]
I agree. I did not always see it this way but I have done a lot of work and do believe that doing everything in your control or influence to better the situation before going to the next thing is a good practice or else you might encounter the same thing at the next place or worse. I often hear these stories during coaching sessions.
So wherever you go in your career, there you are. This said are you going to grit or quit? If you choose to quit, was there grit? Did you try to work out the challenges you were presented with first? These are some things to consider before moving on.
Ps. If you need help figuring this out, please contact me to see if I can help
Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation for everyday life. New York: Hyperion. 198-199.