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Jobs not bad enough to leave

1 June 2023

One of the trickiest career situations to find yourself in is being in a job that just isn’t bad enough to leave, yet really isn’t good enough to stay.

Like the old analogy of the frog slowly dying in boiling water, you can gradually find yourself in a role that has lost its sparkle.  The role may have been good or even stellar at some point, but now feels a bit underwhelming.   The effort though of leaving and the disruption this would cause, can seem like too much to contemplate. 

Not Bad

So, what is it that keeps you there?  Often cognitive biases are to blame.

Take a moment to read through the following and give yourself a score for how much each one might be unconsciously influencing you:

Status quo bias:  This survival bias sees us resistant to change, preferring to stick with what we know than take a risk on something new.

Endowment effect:  With this one, we overvalue things that we own or are familiar with.  When we spend a lot of time at a particular job, we become attached to it, and start to feel that it is more valuable than it actually is.

Sunk cost fallacy:  The idea with this one is that we are more likely to continue investing in something if we have already invested a lot of time, money, or effort into it.  The effort you have put into things such as developing relationships, gaining a reputation, getting runs on the board, can feel like they will be lost if you leave.

Loss aversion:  Speaking of loss, we humans are more motivated by avoiding losses than we are by potential gains.  So, even if you are not particularly happy in a role, the thought of losing the security and stability that comes with it can be daunting.

Optimism bias:  This is the tendency to overestimate the likelihood of positive outcomes and underestimate the likelihood of negative outcomes.  We may stay in a job with the hope and belief that things will get better, even if there is no evidence to support this.

Making the decision to leave a job that isn't terrible but also isn't great can be challenging.  Recognising that cognitive biases may be a play can give you hope to reframe the situation.

You deserve to be in a role in which you are flourishing, and it may be time to take action to create what you want.

As always, wishing you a flourishing career.


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