Career Mojo, Lost and Found: Rightsizing at Work

I came to a surprising conclusion. I could enjoy my work and find meaning in what I do, perhaps without even changing companies. I would find a creative offshoot of my current job.

Creativity can be snuffed out by over-reflection and too much inaction. A brilliant business idea whose time has come often has a small window of time to be executed. Or a new job offer may come with a tight deadline for acceptance.

But patience should not be interpreted as procrastination. To consider the words of Lao Tzu: Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself? With patience, time allows details and alternative perspectives to rise to the surface. I started seeing possibilities that weren’t apparent before.

Five years ago I received a job offer from another company and felt discomfort about not acting quickly. It was likely my ego whispering in my ear, saying I’ve lost my edge as a great decision-maker and I need to be more resolute. The ego doesn’t care about the big picture. It cares more about winning the new job and proving to your current boss that you can do better. It cares about winning the race. I try like hell to steer clear of this kind of advice.

Instead, I should have asked myself: by taking the new job … am I moving toward my goal or am I running away from a situation I’m just not happy with? Perhaps the best thing I did was take small actions WHILE being patient, like asking more questions about the new job. You can take incremental steps with your biggest goal in mind, and if you fail, you still have your eye on what’s most important to you.

It’s also tempting to let others make job decisions for us. I wanted to get past the insecurity of making a potential mistake with my career. Should my family have weighed in? Would it work itself out? Should I have left it to God?

In the end I listened to my ego and took the new job, but I went back to my old company after four months. I mumbled mea culpa for weeks but learned it’s within all of us to appreciate a decision we’ve weighed for ourselves. We want to know that we discovered the choice on our own. We need to use our power to choose.

Over years of job-hopping, through trial and error I stumbled upon a career that’s worthy of my time and energy, in the company of co-workers and clients whom I genuinely like and who like me. It would be foolish to give that up. And so I’ve found a new way to do what I love; a pivot-to-the-left that allows me to perform the part of my job that I do best. I will no longer post jobs and process offers. Instead I will spend my day identifying passive candidates who aren’t job-hunting to consider a new role at my firm. It allows me to work within all the practices at my firm, not only Health & Benefits, and leverage the credibility I’ve built over the years. And I am really jazzed about it.

When we’re passionate about what we do, we proselytize it in a very different way. Promoting our best ideas because they are a representation of who we are is what makes us authentic.

The trade-off of rightsizing my job is the sheer uncertainty of it, but really, is any choice infallible in the world of work? A few colleagues and clients questioned my decision to rightsize my job, and one even asked if it was foisted upon me. The ego’s voice once again buzzed in my ear and I chose to ignore it.

Even at this stage of life, it’s possible to rightsize a career without abandoning a job. Although I’m in the early stages of the changes I’ve made, I feel like I’m onto something.

Can you inject a new way of doing your best work to rightsize your career?


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