The high cost of staying put

The high cost of staying put

Growing up, I saw my mother unhappy at work. There was a lot of political stuff at her office (it's perennial, I know), people one-upping each other and plenty of discrimination.

There weren't many protections in the workplace like we have now, and even if there were, she was a single mom and wouldn't have risked rocking the boat – anything to avoid retaliation or worse – unemployment.

I would ask Mami (Spanish for "Mommy" – pronounced the same way) why she didn't find another job and go somewhere else. But she always put me off.

Mami was stuck.

For 17 years, she languished at the Community Affairs office at the local hospital, underpaid, exploited and overshadowed by people who weren't blessed with her quickness or intelligence.

But they did have better English skills and more importantly, the confidence to wield their language and positional power to stay on top, all while depending on Mami to run everything.

She would say she stayed because of the job security and the proximity to home (across the street!).

But years after she retired, she confessed to me the real reason she stayed.

She was scared. And it broke my heart.

Then years later it happened to me, too.

There were a few years where I was in a job that was killing me… and not softly. But we were in a recession, jobs were tough to get, it was close to home and we desperately needed the money… sound familiar?

In those years, Mami lived outside of New York, so she didn't really have a sense of what was going on. But when I confided in her, she reacted quickly!

She said I needed to stop settling, get going, start looking, and see what was out there. I needed to MOVE.

Because she knew what happens when you don't move. You get stuck.

You know this to be true. Remember the first year of the pandemic? Where you didn't move for months and then all of a sudden everything hurt? You know exactly what I mean.

It's inertia, plain and simple… "a disposition to remain inactive or inert."

Inertia takes over your body, your mind, your relationships, and your career.

Unless you move or take action.

So what does movement or taking action mean in your career?

It means your career is active, not passive.

It's about more than just waiting for your 3% raise every year – if you get a raise at all. It has to do with keeping up with trends, understanding where your industry is headed, and maintaining or increasing your skills and your engagement in the work.

It also means knowing when you're disconnected and need to walk away to do something new, whether that means you get a new employer or enter a new industry altogether.

And it means you do scary things in the name of YOU and for your own sake.

Because success is when preparation meets opportunity and the most frightening acts you can make are making the decision to prepare yourself and then saying yes to opportunity.

Mami wasn't prepared.She was too frightened of the unknown. And for a while, I was, too. But she knew to push me, and it worked.

I was so blinded by my desperation and hopelessness around my work that I didn't realize it would take courage to move forward.

So I took it one step at a time: preparing myself by getting my resume together, applying to positions that fit and some that didn't, and asking around to see if anyone knew of any jobs.

Eventually I was able to move on and up, and Mami was really proud of me for doing what she couldn't.

So…. do you need a push to move?

If so, consider this your call to action. If you don't like where you are, move. If you're not in a good place, move.

Just take that first step. Mami is not with us anymore, but she believed in me, and I believe in you.

Quiet Quitting – or, the decline of the Go-Getter

Quiet Quitting – or, the decline of the Go-Getter

Everyone is talking about Quiet Quitting, with many people feeling puzzled that the phrase is even a "thing" because it means people are doing their jobs and nothing more.

Basically, a quiet quitter is someone who's lost their "go-getter" energy – if they ever had it. There are lots of reasons all over the web as to why this is happening, but I think a disturbing trend I'm hearing from friends and clients could be a major factor in this movement.

Some background: as we – the collective "we" – navigate the collective trauma brought on by the pandemic, political upheaval and climate change (to name a few emergencies), most companies are talking about employee wellness.

Often, employee wellness looks like this:

  • You're getting information about your EAP in the mail or your email,
  • Your insurance company is sending out wellness resources, or
  • Your HR department is reminding you to take your PTO for your health.

It's terrific that organizations seem more conscious of how important it is to take care of ourselves. Right?

But… here's the disturbing trend I mentioned.

With people leaving (#theGreatResignation) and companies taking a long time to replace them, the ones left behind are doing the work of two, sometimes three, people.

With no raise in pay, no extra incentives, and no end in sight.

Despite the exhortations to take time off, to utilize the resources offered, work life is harder than ever for many people.

I'm hearing stories about people doing double and triple duty who are just exhausted. And then when they speak up and ask for help, they are met with a whole lot of ugly.

I'm talking about professional women who have been working 15 years or longer, who have proven themselves, who have gone above and beyond historically and in their current positions. They are tired. Spent. Burnt out.

These are people who asked for help and were met with verbal abuse and subjected to retaliatory actions such as threats, internal investigations, requests for confidential medical records and coercion. Ugly stuff.

Work is important, but lives have and are changed. LIFE for everyone has changed. Dramatically.

Your brain has changed, as has mine, because chronic stress has serious consequences, literally changing our DNA. Our bodies and minds are affected on every level. We have changed.

And my friends & clients? Maybe like you or someone you know, they have too much to do on any given day because they're carrying entire departments. I’m not sure if they consider themselves to be "quiet quitters," but at this point, yes. They might be.

And yes, these people might be "phoning it in" as they polish up their resumes and get back on LinkedIn to check out what's out there.

Because their organizations offered lip service and couldn't or wouldn't back it up with real action.

Is it really a wonder that some people are doing the bare minimum just to get along at work? That they're not "engaged" when they just might be feeling like everything – the weight of the world – is on their shoulders?

Why don't we wonder about the people making such a stink about this #QuietQuitting thing?

They're referring to people who've lived through a massive planetary pandemic, deaths of loved ones, wars, mass shootings, severe weather disturbances, and cultural chasms that may lead to civil wars, among other things.

Really? Is this what the world of work has come to now? Is the response to these times going to be, "why can't people be go-getters anymore?"

Organizations need to read the signs.

And you, dear friend… if you're having trouble engaging with your work, it might be time for you to read the signs, too.

Perhaps you need to go deep and figure out what your next action will be around your career. Are you with an employer you trust? If so, amazing.

If not, maybe it's time to take a look at what you're experiencing and figure out next steps. You can re-engage, look for something new, stay on track, or figure out something else. I'd be very interested in hearing about what your experience at work might be like these days.

Isn't it cool that this #QuietQuitting topic has brought up all these unspoken truths? Hopefully, it makes you think about how you want work to be for you.