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The Bright Side: All the difference

By Jim Bright

'Tis the season to take stock and change direction, writes Jim Bright.

It's last orders, folks! That is, if you are thinking of voluntarily changing jobs this year, now is about the last minute before everything goes quiet for Christmas. If you are not thinking of leaving your job, why on earth not? Here are some reasons to consider it.

First, if you haven't been promoted, stop waiting around for your employer to get an attack of charity. It won't happen. You will get promoted faster if you move. A flawed bit of research in the Harvard Business Review claims that executives who stay put make it to chief executive in about 23½ years versus 25 years for those who move. However, what that research does not consider is that only one person can be the chief and if your card is not marked, hanging around is going to waste your time.

In fact, the extra 18 months it takes to make it were probably wasted hanging around too long with an earlier employer before realising that the promised land membership list was closed.

The name of today's employment market is skills. Employers need them, and they need them to be up to date. So, if you haven't acquired any new skills courtesy of your employer recently, ship out. Judging by what I see around Sydney and Melbourne, hotel training rooms seem eerily quiet; perhaps state government cuts are beginning to bite in terms of people development.

When you go to a party, who are you instinctively more interested in talking to, someone from your own occupation or somebody else? What does that tell you? If you said the same occupation, have you ever spoken for a long time to someone who has only done one thing in their entire life? Didn't think so. Me neither. I would rather attend a lecture on superannuation.

You go to the funeral of a friend. If they were still in their prime or their youth, you cannot help thinking of the lost potential, the joy, fun and contribution they could have made. Indeed, you can't help thinking about your own life and how to maximise those things for yourself and others, too. Time to change, to do something about it.

You see a friend who has radically changed their life - lost or gained (needed) weight, changed jobs, cities, partners, faith, sports, hobbies or hair colour. After the initial grumbling shock about their transition, you secretly admire them for having the guts to take the Richard Branson "screw it, let's do it" approach to life. Time to make some changes.

Changing is liberating. Change is hopeful and optimistic. It reaffirms you are still living, learning and experiencing things. Change is a skill: the more you practise it, the better at it you become. With each change, the fear of uncertainty recedes a little more and is replaced by confidence. You build up a store of memories of you changing, and how you coped. You unconsciously store away a nest egg of battle plans, anecdotes and tips about making the most of change.

Before long, change becomes a habit, and you start looking for change and revitalisation in many aspects of your life.

So now is the time to seriously consider those life changes. Talk to a career counsellor (friends and family tend to prefer you the way you are). Get looking - you have about a month; or start sowing the seeds of a change by thinking how you might use any break you get at the end of the year to consider your options.

Ultimately, embracing change means embracing life, because to live is to change.

Jim Bright is professor of career education and development at ACU and a partner at Bright and Associates. Email Follow @TheFactoryPod.

Published: 10 November 2012

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