Recently, one of my coaching clients brought this question to a coaching session: should I change jobs, or not? With levels of physician burnout at 60% or higher, I know that many doctors are thinking seriously about making a change.
I’m always the first person to say that I honestly don’t know whether you should stay in the job you have now, or leave. You are the only one who knows what is right for you. But I can definitely help you to figure it out.
Very often, trying to make a big decision looks like this. First, we make a list of pros and cons. Then we rationalize, ruminate, fret, and ponder. Time passes. We stay stuck in going back and forth: stay or go, round and round. It feels like an unsolvable problem.
Here are some concepts that can really help you to get unstuck.
1. There is no right or wrong decision.
I know you don’t believe me, but hear me out. 5 years from now, there won’t be any “decision police” coming to arrest you because you made the wrong choice today. The only person who gets to decide later that your decision today was right or wrong is you.
I recommend that you never choose to believe that any decision you have ever made was a bad decision. Does that mean that we never regret a previous decision? Of course not. But we can decide to believe that we made the best decision at the time with the information that we had available to us.
I like to summarize this mindset by saying: you are always winning or learning.
2. There is no better than here.
When you think about your current job, at first you might believe that it is all bad. As humans, we have a tendency to focus on the negative. (Our brains are actually biased this way because it confers a survival advantage.) But when you really think about it, I’m sure that there are some things you like about your current job. Maybe it’s the people on your team, the salary perks, or a schedule that works well for your life. Most of the time, our experience of our work is going to follow the 50% positive, 50% negative rule.
If and/or when you change jobs, the rule of 50:50 will still apply. It will just be a different 50:50. Some things will be better, and some will be worse.
3. Our job is just a set of circumstances.
All circumstances are neutral, until we have a thought about them. Your experience of your current job is primarily determined by your own thoughts. And your thoughts are 100% within your control.
I have seen many people radically transform their experience of their work life only by changing how they think about their job.
Here’s a small example. A number of years ago, they were doing construction on the parking garage at my hospital. As a result, I started entering the hospital through a different door and walked for a few minutes through the cancer center before entering the main hospital. In those few minutes, I often saw people who were obviously suffering the ill effects of their radiation or chemotherapy.
I would start every day understanding that no matter what was in store for me in the OR, I was still going to have a better day than those patients. I would think about how lucky I am to be healthy, and how privileged I am to meet people on what is often one of their hardest days. And if I do my job well, I can make that day just a little bit better. Coming from this perspective often made the difference for me between a bad day and a good day.
For this reason, I like to recommend to everyone to do the work to become happier in their current job by choosing to think about their job differently before they decide to leave. You will be so much better equipped to excel in your next job when you have mastered the skill of managing your mind.
4. We make decisions in an instant.
You are undecided, and then you decide. It might take a year to get to the point of deciding, but the actual decision just takes a moment. And you can decide to decide right now.
So if you’re feeling stuck in indecision about whether it’s time to leave your current job or not, give yourself a deadline. Take whatever time you think is reasonable to run the pros and cons. When the time’s up, make a decision. Choose. Commit.
Then, have your own back by deciding to always believe that you have made the right decision, no matter what.
If you’re still not sure what to do, ask yourself this simple question: “If I had a crystal ball and I knew that staying in this job turned out wonderfully, and that taking a different job turned out wonderfully, which choice would seem like more fun for me?”
If you need help getting unstuck in any area of your life, I’d love to delve further into this topic with you.