Careers are funny things. Sometimes decisions get made for us, like the case of actor Simu Liu.
So this is a whole ass essay but the gist of it is that ten years ago today I was let go from my job as an accountant at Deloitte and although it devastated me at the time, it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me.
— Simu Liu (刘思慕) (@SimuLiu) April 12, 2022
In other cases, making a decision to put yourself there turns into something really impactful. Josh Brown at The Reformed Broker writes:
We bet on Nick. A smart, successful young person who wanted to make himself useful to what we were doing. It was an easy bet. The payoff has been beyond anything we could have reasonably expected at that time. We will continue to bet on Nick just as, someday, Nick will be in a position to bet on future versions of himself who come along. And it will work. That’s it. That’s everything you need to know about making it.
Not every job switch pays off over the long run. It may pay off financially, at first, but there can be repercussions. Here is Adam Grant from a recent podcast:
In a new study, psychologists investigated what happens to your well-being after you quit a job. They recruited thousands of people who voluntarily left their jobs for new ones and followed them for years. It was the longest study of its kind. And the outcomes weren’t good. Even though people left because they were dissatisfied, they actually became more dissatisfied in their new jobs for several years afterward. The grass often looks greener from afar, but not so much up close.
Grant talks about the three things (voice, loyalty, and alternatives) to think about before switching jobs. However there may be a fourth one, compounding. Morgan Housel at the Collaborative Fund writes about the parallels between careers and investing. Where the biggest benefits only show up over time after a period of consistent effort. Housel writes:
Noticing patterns and connecting the subtle dots is something that’s hard to teach in a classroom but becomes obvious when you’ve lived and breathed a field for decades…All of that breaks down when you move to a new field or a new company. The shiny allure of new overrides the quiet power of compounding in a way that’s easy to overlook.
That’s not to say switching jobs or careers doesn’t sometimes make sense. Nobody should stay in a job where they feel dismissed or demeaned. However in all cases, the decision is a lot easier if you keep your burn rate, think housing, cars, etc., at a reasonable level. Hunter Walk notes that if often takes a near-term financial hit to go try something new. Walk writes:
But if you want to prioritize the act of starting a company, or impacting an early one in a big way, you should expect to take a near-term pay cut…but if you can’t imagine earning less for a few years to make more later, then realize your limiting your choices.
There are no guarantees in life, especially careers. Luck plays a role. Sure-fire companies fail all the time. Long-lagging companies sometimes turn into world beaters. All you can do is make your own decisions and recognize that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the street.
*Just saw this great quote from James Clear:
Would you have a more successful career if you had taken that other job or moved cities? Possibly. But your actual career will definitely suffer if you don’t commit to doing it to the best of your ability.