Updated: Apr 15
Why do we stay in jobs that grind us down? Long past the time we know we should make a change for the good of our health?
So many of the people I work with have had a successful career but have ended up exhausted, usually by toxic culture and poor leadership.
They often say they should have left earlier. I guess it's the 'boiling frog' thing, as I did the same.
For several years I talked to family and friends about how I wanted to leave my organisation. There was no alignment with my values and what matters to me. I was working horribly long hours and most weeks travelling to other parts of the UK, involving 4 or 5 hours travel at a time and overnights in hotels. I was eating unhealthily (all those airport and hotel meals), and lacking sleep due to early mornings to get flights and then disturbed nights in hotels. And the worst part was poor leadership - leaders who set unreasonable demands and offered no support.
I found myself sighing all the time, and rarely laughing.
Looking back, I don't really know why I stayed so long.
I'm usually action-orientated - if I have an idea I want to get on with it straight away. So why did this take me so long?
I gave myself various reasons:
I was still able to learn and grow in my role (this has always been really important to me)
I liked the people I worked with
I mostly enjoyed my work and I loved my team
We had a big mortgage and I wasn't sure I'd match my salary elsewhere
It was 'only' poor leadership and culture that caused me problems
No job or organisation is perfect, is it?
So I stuck in there, the psychological contract well and truly broken but hey, you can't have everything right?
Looking back, I can see how the poor leadership and culture had been affecting me for some time:
💡Sleep deteriorating as I woke at 4am thinking about something that had happened or something I had to do
💡Little motivation for running and other things I enjoy
💡Too much wine and 'comfort food'
💡Less time for family and friends as I often worked evenings and weekends to 'catch up' or 'get ahead'
💡Dreading Monday mornings and counting down the days to Friday afternoon
Then one Monday afternoon, told to dial in to a call with the HR Director team to hear that (once again) we needed to 'reduce headcount by at least 15%' and I just knew that this time I was taking the 'opportunity'.
So, I harnessed my Courage strength and told my Director I wanted out.
I didn't know what I'd do next.
I simply knew I needed to get away from the organisation and take time to recover.
And many of my clients are in the same space. They don't always know what they want to do next, but they sure as hell know they aren't going back to the same environment they've left.
But they've lost their confidence and they don't quite know where or how to start.
It's a joy to work with them and see their confidence return as they reconnect with their strengths, values and what matters to them. As they start to understand what's possible and how they can achieve it.
Have you stayed in your job too long? Take my Career Audit - 10 questions to help you know if it's time to make your move.
Know that it's never too late to make the career change you need! I did this in my 50s and my clients range from 30s to 50s 💛
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About Karen Felton
Karen is a Leadership Career Change Success coach, enabling leaders in HR and Financial Services to make the change they dream of in their career.
She has over 25 years’ experience leading teams, coaching and mentoring people, developing leaders and enabling people to achieve their career goals. She is passionate about enabling people to be their best selves so they can perform at their best in work and in life.