A whimsical, yet useful Paul Simon song from a few years ago is sticking in my head …
You Just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free
Well, Simon was singing about leaving his lover, but I do believe that the message fits a larger array of possibilities. We sometimes procrastinate while we try to figure out exactly how to get out of something with the least damage.
Admirable perhaps, especially when other people are involved, but also the type of impulse that contributes to stalling, over-analysis, and prolonged suffering, probably more often than softening the effects of just “walking out the door”.
For example, I stayed in my first post-college full-time job for seven years. With perfect hindsight, I realize now that I should have left after the first four years … I had learned all I could and had realized by that time that I was probably not going to stay.
Yet I did remain, for several reasons noted below. Do any of these sound familiar to you? :
LOYALTY TO THE ORGANIZATION …
This can range from simple gratitude for a continuing paycheck to a sense of engagement with the larger organization. Maslow’s theory recognizes our human need for affiliation or connection with others. It’s why we wear team logos, even when we are not players or owners.
Generational Perspective: This may be a more common issue for older workers, since the concept of organizational loyalty has been much questioned in recent decades.
PROSPECTS FOR ADVANCEMENT OR GAIN …
The possibility of a promotion or job change with a raise and more benefits is a hefty incentive to hang in there for a while longer. Sometimes leaving a job is presented as an act with consequences. Some organizations use such carrot and stick methods to insure workers stay in place.
When you have invested time and energy in a particular endeavor, you might feel that you need to continue the investment, just because you have done so for so long.
… and then there is that fear of being labeled as a “Quitter“.
FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN …
We are often more comfortable with what we know than what we do not know … even when the known is not positive. We sometimes let the perceived risks of a change outweigh or mask the potential benefits.
Our minds may over-think the difficulties involved in change, to the point where we are afraid to try. We make “mountains out of mole hills” and see obstacles where none actually exist.
… which combines nicely with the last reason to create an almost unbreakable wall.
GOOD OLD INERTIA …
Sometimes it’s just easier to stay where you are than to experience the discomfort of moving. One can string together a long series of “Maybe tomorrow” thinking and realize one day that years have gone by without significant change.
We underestimate inertia at our own risk. Getting through the day consumes more energy than most of us realize and when one spends their energy getting through the day, they are less likely to find more energy to actually change.
… easier to just get up and keep going in our comfortable ruts.
Using that afore-mentioned hindsight, none of these appear valid from my current perspective and awareness of both myself and how things tend to work. However, they joined then to form a formidable obstacle to me changing.
SOMETIMES DOING SOMETHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HOW YOU DO IT.
… and you might notice that I did not even mention waiting for perfect alignment of the conditions, timing, and resources before acting. This phenomenon is not an obstacle to acting, but a symptom of the other reasons why we do not act when we need to act.
A few questions to consider:
What has your experience been with staying too long in a negative situation?
How do you normally approach leaving a situation which is no longer doable?
Who and What do you consider as you make your plans?
Enjoying the weekend, while I consider my exit plans in the Heartland ….