Every week, I get a ton of emails from blog readers with career questions they want me to answer.
Typically, I don’t provide career advice via email—that’s why we have the monthly Q&A (“Ask the Career Coach”) video sessions. Members of the Free Career Resource Library can attend for free and submit questions of their own.
But one question I get asked a lot is about job hopping. People want to know why they can’t keep a job. In some cases, they’ve left voluntarily. In others, they’ve been terminated. But regardless of circumstance, these people write to me when they’re feeling hopeless. They want stability, consistency, and fulfillment, and they can’t seem to find it.
If you’re struggling to keep a job, there may be a few reasons. See if any of these strike a chord.
You Have Unrealistic Expectations
Chronic job hoppers often have unrealistic expectations about what work should be. They believe that old cliché, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day.”
Unfortunately, work is not play. It’s called work for a reason, and very few people (if any) truly feel like they never work. If you’re being paid to do something, it will probably—occasionally—be frustrating, irritating, or unpleasant. That’s why you get the paycheck.
The goal shouldn’t be to find a job that doesn’t ever feel like work. The goal should be to find work that is rewarding, challenging and relatively pleasant for the majority of the time. That way, you can shrug off those bad days. They happen from time to time, even in the best jobs.
Are you setting yourself up for disappointment by believing that work shouldn’t ever feel like work?
You Suffer From “Greener Grass” Syndrome
All too often, job hoppers suffer from the belief that, wherever they are, it isn’t as good as somewhere else. “The grass is always greener…” as they say.
The problem with this is obvious. When you’re constantly comparing your situation to others and you’re always coming up short, you’ll never be happy. You could move a thousand times and you’ll always find someone else who has it better than you do. And those jobs that seem to be everything yours isn’t? They have their own downsides, I assure you.
Remember that comparison is the thief of joy. The more you focus on what you don’t have, the less you appreciate what you do have.
Are you letting inaccurate perceptions taint your reality?
You’re Too Quick to Give Up
Research shows that, in order to enjoy a task, you need to be proficient with it, and proficiency takes time. Think of learning a musical instrument. It’s no fun until you can play a few songs that sound recognizable. Then, it gets easier and the enjoyment flows.
The same is true at work. For most people, getting in the rhythm of a new job is uncomfortable. It may take as much as a year to really become good at what you’re doing and to understand the ins and outs of the position. In the meantime, a lot of people give up. They figure it’s just not the right fit. Then, when they move on to a new position, they quickly end up back in the same place and the cycle begins again.
Are you giving up before proficiency sets in?
You’re Making Bad Decisions
For some job hoppers, the problem starts before they’re even in the job. They don’t know what they want or what they’re good at. They just know they need a job. So they jump into one without giving any real thought to whether or not it’s a match for them. They base their decision on money, or convenience, or other factors that have nothing to do with their ability to be successful or the potential for fulfillment. As a result, they land in roles they are poorly suited for.
For some people, the mismatch leads to performance issues and, ultimately, termination. For others, it’s a slow downward spiral into stress and anxiety. They still don’t know what the right thing is, but they’re certain it isn’t this. They scramble fast away from what they don’t want, instead of toward what they do want. Again, they make a bad decision and accept a new job without due diligence, only to find they’re right back where they started.
Are you making career decisions based on the wrong factors?
If you’ve been struggling to find work that is fulfilling and stable, it’s time to reassess how you’re approaching your career. Considering working with a career coach to figure out what’s causing your problem and to resolve it once and for all.