Has anyone ever said to you, “You should be grateful!” This gratitude policing is usually said after you make some minor complaint about something that is clearly not working in your life. But because so many of us are socialized to take what we can get, to settle and be grateful, we admonish and are admonished by others for suggesting we might deserve more.
I have a client whose perspective on changing jobs perfectly illustrates this:
“I was often told “you should just get your foot in the door at a good company.” Based on this I was thrilled to get my foot in the door at (a large retailer). I wound up on a career path that felt stable and pushed me to learn new things. I often felt “grateful” that I could have such a good job with a great company. This has plagued me throughout my entire career. Whenever I have thought about going somewhere else, I wonder if I will regret giving up such a well-paying and somewhat stable job, even though I haven't been truly happy in my career.
I had also entered the workforce not long before the recession and felt thankful to be employed as I watched friends lose jobs.
I wish I would have done what I am doing now to discover careers that would help me provide for my family and fill me up. I wish I would have had the confidence and courage to try new things that may have scared me but would have led to longer term happiness.”
She recently made a major career move and is very happy with it. It just took some exploration together to determine what direction made sense for her so that she could stop settling while still acting in her best financial interest, but now she's doing something she loves and sees ever-expanding possibilities instead of a life of “well I guess I should be grateful.”
Another one of my clients just quit her job after only 6 months. Yes she had felt gratitude for getting the job- especially because it came after a 3 year career break to care for family. But then it became obvious that she had no real power and worse, everything she was told in the interview was lip service. After trying and trying to get things accomplished, she was tired of banging her head against the wall. Sure she could've stayed for the sake of her resume. But she was going crazy. At some point mental health must be considered ahead of a job. She knew her gratitude for having found the job was no comparison for what she was giving up in terms of her sanity. So she quit. And now she's already interviewing for other positions that are a better fit. While some people may see this as short sighted or impetuous, I see it as brave. It would be different if she didn't have many skills or wasn't a catch, professionally speaking. But she is. She (and many others) can afford to make a “crazy” decision like this from time to time in a long career.
We aren't prisoners of our jobs. But we often act like prisoners of societal or familial expectations. Who really suffers when we “stick it out”? Society? Our family? Not really. It's each person toiling away at something that makes them unhappy and unfulfilled. The world is waiting for you to own up to your gifts and shine your unique light on us. So let's remember to be grateful for that, instead- the freedom to change and the power to pursue true gratitude based on being who we really want to be.
Life Purpose and Career Coach
Career Clarity Now