You may be experiencing either an “Idea Flow Mismatch,” or a series of “Post-Honeymoon Phase” episodes
I’ve been at a job for the past two years, and another for two years before that… and another for two years before that. Once again, I’m starting to get that familiar itch and feeling really uncomfortable in my current position. This time, though, I’m realizing that maybe the problem is me. The first two times I switched jobs, I was sure the work was the source of my dissatisfaction, but looking around at my colleagues, I seem to be the only one jumping around so often. My jobs have all been in the same field, but in different positions. Is there any way to determine what’s going on? I know this doesn’t seem normal, but I don’t know why I’m feeling this way!
—Unhappy Job Hopper
Great question! I’ve got two guesses, and I hope at least one of them may give you some insight into how you’re feeling at work.
Assuming you chose the field you’re in with good reason, you may be experiencing either an “Idea Flow Mismatch,” or a series of “Post-Honeymoon Phase” episodes.
You know how some people talk a mile a minute, with ideas spilling out like a burst piñata, while others are more measured and reserved? What you’re seeing there is called “rate of idea” flow. It’s something that can actually be scientifically measured through aptitude testing, and one of the things it can tell us is how quickly we bore of repetitive tasks. Some people love the comfort of repetition and the ability to focus and excel at a particular task, and others need constant mental movement to feel satisfied. It sounds like your job may be a mismatch with your rate-of-idea flow.
I’ve noticed a pattern with clients who have a very high rate-of-idea flow, coupled with good problem-solving skills. They’re usually thrilled at the start of a new job, but get bored by the end of year one. By year two they feel completely stagnant, and only stay because it seems like the right thing to do. Ultimately, boredom wins and they look for a new job.
The explanation for this is simple: They enjoy a complex challenge. Starting a job stimulates the areas of their brain they naturally enjoy using, since they are by default learning and figuring out new things all the time. Once they master the job, the enjoyable part ends, since the actual work doesn’t involve constant learning.
If you identify yourself in this scenario, are you doomed to endlessly repeat this cycle? Nope — there’s a solution. You likely need a job where the work itself provides constant new projects, so you’re always engaged in the work. I’ve seen many people end this struggle by recognizing this need and finding a job that uses their natural talent.
The other possibility behind your discontent at work is that you’re experiencing what’s more commonly known in relationships as “the honeymoon phase.” When you first start a new job, everything seems shiny and wonderful and better than the last job. But then, things predictably fall back into “normal”; you get used to the new people, the new coffee machine, even the great company snacks and lunches. That’s when it’s time to really focus on succeeding in your new role, gaining the trust of others on the team, and becoming an authority in your role.
You may be running into trouble at some point in the stages between getting great at your job, establishing your position on the team, and then having the opportunity to expand your role. Sometimes, there are jobs that just have no room for growth. Other times, though, people use that as an excuse (because somehow others around them are finding opportunities for growth). Usually, what’s necessary to progress to the next stage in a position is to stick around long enough to not only excel in the role you were hired for, but to take on additional responsibilities.
If you suspect that this second scenario may be what’s hindering your job-retention rate, I suggest you find a mentor who can help guide you toward developing the discipline and competence necessary to grow into a long-term successful position.
One last thing to remember: Normal is just a setting on the washing machine. Experiencing work challenges is a perfectly (normal) human experience!
Shaina Keren is a career consultant who helps people discover and create careers that fit their best talents, interests, and life goals. She also advises businesses on hiring and keeping “the right people in the right seat,” in a win-win approach to growing businesses and careers.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 936)
Oops! We could not locate your form.