Recently a friend called me up to ask for my opinion on whether she should be accepting a better job offer with higher pay, title and responsibility.
That got me thinking to write about this post- because just a few weeks ago, I was in a crossroad just as my friend was in. A good pep talk from someone helped to put things in perspective for me. And I hope that in this article, I can be of help to you if you are in a similar predicament….
First, no matter how confident and sure we are, each one of us will have doubts at one point or another at our chosen path. This is perfectly normal.
At one point of your career, you may be suddenly called into the room. Your manager or head of department may have approached you to offer you a better job with higher prestige but lots of extra responsibilities. When they are talking to you, they will highlight your strong points and tell you how they thought that you can fit into the whole grand scheme of things (example, ‘we plan to expand our company and we need talented people like you to help us make it happen...’).
Dazed by the feeling of being needed and appreciated, and taken in by the seemingly logical explanation, you may feel touched that management is trying to ‘chart a good career path by matching your job skills to the position and pay’. Often caught off guard (because you’re usually never saw the meeting coming), you sit in a hypnotized trace as each praises upon praises are rained upon you.
‘Wow!’ you thought, ‘I could do this, since management has so much faith in me…’
They may have a theory or even hidden agendas (probably because they could not find another ‘scapegoat’ and they know you are a kind hearted soul…)
I am not saying that all promotions and offers are bad and come with hidden agendas. In fact, some are probably long overdue- the good potential employee who never got noticed finally getting the recognition that he/she so deserved.
But before you accept that offer, please ask yourself these questions:
What are my true priorities in life?
How does this new offer fit into my priorities?
You need to identify and know your true priorities, then built other aspects like your career choices around these priorities. It’s sad to just focus solely on career, money and promotion- and the rest of your life such as your relationships, health, things you want to accomplished gets ‘scheduled’ around your job.
Believe me, no one knows your priorities better than you yourself. I repeat, no one can know you better than yourself.
If you don’t know what’s important to you, think of things that you look forward or enjoy doing (minus out bad habits like sleeping long hours, stuffed in a couch watching TV with a bag of chips, etc). Think of people that make life worth living for and that you wished you can spend more time with. These are important things in your life. As much as you can manage, they should not take the backburner. Because if you allow your real priorities to always take the back seat, you’ll be the one who is miserable.
In the case of my friend, we have known each other for more than 10 years. I know that there’s nothing more important to her than her family. Spending quality time with her family is important- late nights and constant disruptive phone calls (being on call 24/7 comes with the new job) will just kill her inside. Furthermore, my friend has a kind heart- and to take the job, she’ll need to be a tough cookie to be able to ward off ‘tai chi kings and queens’, ie other unit managers who will be passing the buck to her and her team. That means she will have to learn to be much more nasty and assertive- which are not part of her loving nature.
It’s not that I want to discourage you to take that chance of a lifetime… but in my years of working, I have seen my own friends who have accepted promotions have their health wrecked, unable to conceive (all work and no energy left to play) and have their marriage on the rocks because of their ungodly working hours.
To further explain what I mean, let me quote you an example from my own life:
I have been offered repeatedly career advancement in my past job- my managers and head of department had called me numerous times into the room for such ‘pep talks’. I’ve declined many such offers- because I know that the job they have in mind for me is not right for me. Still, there were a few offers that I’ve taken up because they involved in doing what I enjoy doing.
Once, I was offered to head the Compliance & Control unit because my big boss figured that since I am into details, can be very firm and is good with processes and writing procedures in a clear manner- I would be the best person for the job. To outsiders, it would seemed that way- and add on to good persuasive skills, they will just melt you inside.
This big boss has always been kind to me and I was grateful that she had given me a lot of chances for advance and recognition- but I still politely declined that offer. I told her that I am not the type of person who follows the rules of convention and therefore it will be ‘traumatic’ and hypocrite of me to have to go round pushing rules down people’s throat. I had been good with details and writing because I had loved what I was doing, but it does not mean that I can write and enforce rules well. Heck, I am the type of driver who answers my mobile without a hands free and make illegal U-turns when no one’s watching- so imagine asking that kind of person to set a good example of a law abiding citizen (of course, my hands free days came to an end after I had to pay RM100 when I was finally caught one day by a police patrol car. I figured risking RM100 from my hard earned money is not worth just to answer the darn mobile. And dear law enforcement officer, if you are reading this, I’ve also stopped making illegal u-turns 🙂 ).
Yes, you may have strengths that is suitable for the job. But if you love your little baby daughter very much and can’t bear to be part with her, taking that job that requires 50% travelling would give you lots of inner conflict and stress down the road. Ask yourself if the money’s worth it if you were to lose out on her growing years.
On the other hand, I cannot deny that some people are just put into this earth to continue taking higher management rules to inspire others to be the best as they could be. One of them is my former boss- I hope to write about her so that I can give you view of the other side of the coin.