Bright Shiny Object

I don’t know if you notice but kids in general loves to chase after “bright shiny objects.”  They may be playing with their favorite toy but as soon as they see another “bright shiny object,” especially owned by another child, they immediately seem to want that one instead and drop the one they have in their hands.

What does this have to do with career development, you ask?  Well, I guess this is my way of warning people from always chasing after the next “bright shiny object” in their careers.  Career decisions takes time, thoughtfulness, research, and self-awareness. Many of times though I see people make decisions about what to do next with their career based 1) on what they see other people doing or 2) on seeing another job that seems to be better compared to their current one while knowing very little about the other job.  I called this the “bright shiny object” syndrome.

For example, you see all your friends apply to business school, so you decide to apply to business school as well not knowing really why you want to go and why now.  You think somehow whatever issues you may encounter now will magically be solved by attending business school.  I heard one person say that he wants to go to school so he can network with the elites.  That same person wants to be an entrepreneur and is currently working at a great start-up surrounded by successful, inspiring entrepreneurs.  Instead of seeing his current opportunity, he is waiting to network in business school. It’s like the “in” thing to do, not considering fully also that it’s a potential $450K opportunity cost as well.

Another example, if you are thinking about voluntarily changing you job in this economy, make sure it’s for a good set of reasons.  The fact the other job looks cooler or is more fun while you have only been at your current job for a few months is not a good reason.  The fact that you are worried that you have to do more at your current job due to organizational changes and the other job SEEM like less work is not a good reason.  Nothing is what it seems.  Most of the time, we only get to know about 20% of what the other job is like through interviews.  You may end up leaving your job to find a whole different mess you didn’t expect in this new job or worse get laid off at the new one since you have no history there.

At the end of the day, it is important to consider all of the following when thinking about a career change in this economy

  • How does the new position or this next career step fit into my overall career goals?
  • How does leaving my current position now affect how it looks on my resume?  You should be at a job for at least a year or two for it to be valued in a resume.
  • How much do I know about this next move?  Am I making a decision based on assumptions or actual facts?
  • Will I be ok with this decision later if I got laid off in my new job sometime in the future? I know a few stories of folks who left their jobs and then got laid off at their new one a few months later because of the economy and bad timing.  This is much more likely to happen in today’s market.
  • Am I doing this because I want to or because I want to portray an image to others?  How others perceive us sometimes play too big a part in our decisions.  Remember 99.9% of the time people are worried about their own stuff instead of about other people anyway.
  • Can I accept the risks of this decision 6 months, a year down the road and not live with any regrets regardless of what happens?

There is no such thing as a perfect decision but just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons for your career. Good luck out there


One thought on “Bright Shiny Object

  1. Maggie

    Great post, Lei! I'm in the middle of preparing return to work after a long maternity leave and making decisions about career options. It's just like starting a new job, and this is a useful post to me.


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