For weeks you have been in the running for a new job. Things looked positive. You completed two or three interviews and you made the short list. There were a few negatives, but as the process moved forward, you tended to overlook that long commute or the fact that you would be back in a carrel rather than an office. There was a momentum that seemed to signify you would soon be moving on.
Psychologically, you began to envision yourself in the new job. At the same time, you mentally documented all of the negatives of your current job. You will be happy to get out from under that lackluster supervisor or to stop trying to convince your team to be more productive. Then there are those office policies you have always hated.
You find yourself letting little things slip at work. They won’t be your problems in the future, so who cares? You focus less and less. Your current job begins to lose its importance. You have one foot out the door.
When the phone call or email comes, you are disappointed. While you were a strong candidate, the position was offered to someone else. What happens now?
First of all, take a few days to consider if you really wanted the new job or if you simply wanted change. Look again at the potential negatives you knew were there (that extra long commute, for example), and decide if you actually feel a bit relieved. Also, do a postmortem on your job-seeking performance. What did you do well? What could you have done better? What did you learn about the process and yourself? Once you have done a thorough analysis, put it behind you. Obsessing is never useful.
The next step is to refocus on your job. What catching up do you need to do? Did your inattention do any damage? Think about why the new job seemed so attractive and use that insight to help you set some goals for your current position. Is it time for a conversation with your boss? Is there potential for a different position within your organization?
Perhaps it really is time to move on, and you will continue to look for another position. While doing so, remember that you already have a job with performance obligations. Don’t put that or your reputation in jeopardy while looking to the future.