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So you want to quit your job and get a new one (again)?

Image by Twylamae
Words by Genevieve Phelan

You probably have career commitment issues.

I’m beginning to feel a lot less me. It seems like everything is just better in hindsight and I have become a serial quitter who can’t be stopped.

I sent this slightly depressing, melodramatic text soliloquy to a friend two weeks ago after about two months into yet another Shiny New Big Girl Job. If you’ve also sent a message like this or experienced a similar feeling of unease or dread in a professional decision you’ve recently made, you probably have career commitment issues.

I’ve worked three serious communications industry roles in the space of one year. That’s not even counting the side gigs, the freelance hustles, the Seek searches, the online job shopping or the pang of envy that hits me when a friend or loose acquaintance I follow on Instagram do something newer and better. It’s so viciously cyclical, this need to always be moving and one-upping myself and everyone around me. The kicker is, I’m only 21.

This restlessness can probably be attributed to millennial burnout, or the way social media erodes our attention spans, or some other product of our highly connected, digital world. But I thrive on multitasking and having hundreds of things on the go. It’s when you find yourself discontented with having what you thought you wanted and obsessed with the Next Big Thing that career changeability begins to look more and more attractive, fuelled by a need for gratification and constant success the world has conditioned us to crave.

But the result? You’re in constant pursuit of an afterthought when it might be better to just stay put and wait your damn turn.

I thought I thrived on being wriggly and adaptable, so I glamourised the hustle. But now I’m stuck in a strange continuum of reckless pursuit, fleeting excitement, then woeful disenchantment. Despite what my resume would suggest, I’m not all that happy sitting at a desk from 8:30am to 5:30pm.

My question is, why are we so desperate to get ahead? Making the move, throwing all caution (and commitment) to the wind and typing/screaming/texting/writing ‘I quit’ can feel liberating. But when making capricious career choices for wrong reasons, I’ve found the Next Best Thing usually reveals itself to be mirage-like and disappointing. The grass is always greener, and I should have remembered that from the beginning.

As a supporter of loving what you do, here are just a few things I wish someone made me recite before I quit or accepted my last few career jaunts:

All that glitters is not gold

Has your workplace got an ego? Does it come with a ridiculous slew of accolades? Or, on the flip-side, have none of your friends even heard about it? Either way, remember this: notoriety doesn’t always translate to job satisfaction. Everything is subjective, and although your second-cousin from Sydney may say she’s heard it’s the bee’s knees, your gut-instinct is the one voice to listen to. Decide your own truths.

Internships are a dime a dozen

Get the right one for you, don’t settle with the first offer. Internships are unpaid and ubiquitous, like a match on standard Bumble. In the beginning, a lot of us think internships are elusive, glittering unicorn-like creatures that will result in some dosh at the end of a three-month stint. Try tilting your head and looking at them more so as groovy training sessions. Envisage the dream environment that you want to learn in and forget about how many office puppies or Instagram followers they have. Just because there’s knockoff wines on Fridays, doesn’t make this the fertile ground for you to flourish.

Ask the hard questions

Be a quiz-master in your entry interview. Think about exactly what you want to get out of this job, so you won’t want to get out of this job. Do you know what roles you will specifically be undertaking? Maybe you thought you’d be penning illustrious copy and brewing up big ideas, but instead your workload is more in the realm of strategic planning and influencer relations. Whatever it is that gets you going, make sure it aligns with the contract you’re signing.

Let your talent take care of you

This one comes paraphrased from undeniably successful, Leandra Medine Cohen. Have faith in your niche and let it guide you. Pair your talent, quirks and fascinations with something that really matters to you from the get-go.

Remember why you started

It all comes back to why you wanted this in the first place. Usually, you can reverse engineer the origins of your decision to take the job/internship/other rodeo you chose and whether it was in good faith. Maybe it was for free meals, cool events, spunky office digs or charming colleagues. That sort of stuff is what usually comes back to bite ya when the nine-to-five really sinks in. You know what they say, don’t meet your heroes.

It’s not a fear of commitment in general that I find hard to get over. It’s a fear of committing to the wrong thing that’s terrifying. And deep down, isn’t that just because we want what we do to actually mean something?

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