If you are anything like me, you may have had one awful professional experience in your career that left you questioning everything about yourself and your skill set.
While I was working that job, I had no social life, I slept a max of four hours each day, and I once woke up to myself typing an email on my phone in the middle of the night. I had grown used to being yelled at and feeling like I could never do anything right — even when I did exactly what was asked of me. I was constantly striving for approval, yet never getting it.
When I watch The Devil Wears Prada I still have flashbacks to working for my old boss and have to tell myself that I’m okay, now — that that time in my life is over.
I was lucky, though. A year and a half later, I started one of the best jobs of my life. A job I loved. A job where I was excited to go to work every day and see the people I worked with. The office environment was full of group coffee runs, pranking each other, and Monday morning trivia games. It was the dream workplace. When I was at that awful first job, it was obvious I would eventually need to move on. This one? Not so much.
Because I was finally lucky enough to have a good job where I was feeling content, it was harder for me to realize I needed to move on from that, too. My role at the company was not something I was passionate about, and there was no outlet for me to pursue my true professional interests. But I was happy! Or, at least happier.
As time went on, though, I began to feel robotic in my daily work, doing the same thing over and over without learning anything new. I attempted to change positions within the company, but hit a wall each time I tried. My job was still objectively “good” — I knew what an awful job was, and this wasn’t it — but it became apparent there was no room for me to grow professionally within the business.
I reached a point where I knew I couldn’t allow myself to be satisfied with where I was, and working with people who had become my closest friends wasn’t enough of a reason to stay. I had to do something uncomfortable, something that felt risky to me. I needed to leave a good thing in the hope of finding something better.
This idea was so foreign to me. I thought you only left something good when something better dropped right into your lap. When the next big thing magically found you, that was when you could move onto that something better.
But then I came to the realization that if I was going to find something better,it was not going to be handed to me by a fairy godmother. I had to go find it for myself. It was then that I had a strange peace about my future, because I finally realized it was in my own hands. For so long I had worked for bosses that kept me where they wanted me to be — not where I wanted to be. Things were shifting. I was leaving on my terms.
Upon leaving that company I didn’t effortlessly move into my dream job, but leaving allowed me to reevaluate what my professional ambitions were and gave me time for the passions and talents that I had previously let fall by the wayside.
Staying in a stagnant, “good” job when there’s nothing left to learn or push you forward can be as damaging as being in a terrible job. Being kept in one role can lower your self-confidence, can make you feel as though maybe it’s the only thing you’re decent at. It did for me, for a long while. I had to take a real look at my knowledge and skill set, and have the confidence to break myself out of the mold my previous bosses had put me in.
You don’t have to accept the limitations others have placed on you. Start working towards whatever it is you want to be doing, expand your skills, and expand your network. Don’t let yourself become complacent.
Don’t be satisfied with good. Keep building towards better.