Comparison Can Be Risky for Your Career

Comparison Can Be Risky for Your Career

One friend just came back from a business trip to Iceland. Another was accepted for training as an FBI agent. And a third is working at a large PR firm, a job that appears to come with many fun perks. Why isn’t your job more exciting? Is this what you signed up for? Is this all there is? What happened to “chasing your dreams and following your passion?”

It’s not unusual to sometimes feel that you aren’t keeping up with your peers, or that your life seems boring by comparison. Before you decide to recklessly shake things up, take some time to assess your job and your success to date.

There are many aspects to consider. First, are you in a stable job in your chosen field? There is a lot to be said for stability in uncertain times. What made you accept your current position? Was it salary, location, benefits, the opportunity to work with a giant in your field, or a combination of factors? Or was it by default or simply that you couldn’t find anything else?

What about benefits? Your job may have better benefits than the jobs of your peers. For example, you may have comprehensive health care benefits which include dental and vision insurance, no or few co-pays, and adequate sick leave if needed.  Perhaps you hope to begin a family in a few years, and accessing maternity leave is important to you. Is your employer’s 401k match more generous than others, and is it helping you to save faster? Also, maybe your employer helps employees get advanced degrees.

Perhaps your job has allowed you to stay in a chosen neighborhood with manageable rent and a minimal commute or you were able to remain close to home or near an aging relative who needs some assistance. It may also be an ideal location for both you and your partner.

Another thing to consider is whether you are flexible and if you like change? Your friend has to relocate for the FBI training, and then will be assigned to various places around the country. She may like that type of continuous change, but you may find stability more comfortable. Your friend at the PR agency may work most weekends or she has to attend several evening events each week. You value your weekends and time for family and your favorite activities. The trip to Iceland may have been all business and no free time for sightseeing. You prefer to carefully plan your trips and vacations.

There is almost always a slight competition among colleagues, and there is a tendency to positively enhance postings on social media. As a result, things may seem better or more exciting than they are.

If you feel that you actually are stuck in a dead-end job, that you are underpaid or lack necessary benefits, or you dislike what you are doing, it may be time to start transition planning for your career. Update your resume, increase your networking, begin a job search, but do so deliberately and based on what you need, not because of some comparison with your friends.

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