Now that we know how to identify if we are stuck in a sea of too many options and what to do about it.
Today we will take a look at what are some not-so-obvious reasons why we get stuck?
We did an interesting experiment – Read along and there are some interesting insights waiting for you.
Remember that feeling when we got a job, we look at the offer letter and smiled, just smiled. We shared that with our family, friends, called our Mom and shared that we got a job that pays so much and wait there is more, the bonuses, the paid leave, the stock options…
There was once a time this was giving us so much happiness…
Fast forward four years later, where is that excitement? Where is that feeling that made us feel like we were walking on the moon? Why does it feel like we are stuck in a trap?
All said and done, there are fundamentally three major reasons why we start feeling we are stuck:
- (Lack of) Right People: We don’t enjoy the people we work with anymore – especially the boss. We don’t feel valued by the people around us. (Earning a good salary doesn’t matter if you feel miserable every day with the people around you)
- (Lack of) Right Progress: We do not see possibilities of any progression – forward progression in terms of money or role. (especially when the rest of our colleagues are moving forward.)
- (Lack of) Purpose: We sometimes want to have something meaningful that comes out of all our hard work and there is no purpose we can find in our jobs except making money and that feeling of emptiness starts creeping in. If there is no meaning, there is no joy, that’s just so fundamental to who we are as humans.
Which one of these do you currently suffer with? Many of us may have a problem with ALL three factors, but which one is the most dominant?
Now let’s get a little deeper. We did a fascinating experiment by talking to people to find out which one of these was the most important reason why they felt stuck.
These were all people in the IT industry – Programmers, Business Analysts, QA analysts, team leaders, Project managers and Operations managers. About 64% mentioned lack of progression in their salary and role as the most important reason why they felt stuck.
Interestingly enough, all these people were drawing over $75,000 in Florida which is good amount of money for a decent lifestyle (incidentally research proves that the net positive effect of money starts to fade beyond a salary of $75,000 – for e.g. When your salary is $50,000, a $5000 increase in salary is desired and fought for a lot more than a $10,000 salary increase when you are earning $85,000 – relatively speaking). That’s when we decided to go back and plant a trick question.
We split the group into two – with 30 people in each group.
Group 1 – We asked the following question.
‘If your company decided to give a 50% raise to you, will you feel happy and relieved about your career?’
86% of them said Yes!
Group 2 – We asked the following question.
‘If your company decided to give a 50% raise to ‘everyone’ in the company, will you feel happy and relieved about your career?’
78% of them said ‘No’!
That was very surprising, so we ended up interviewing the people. Long story short, here’s what we found. People did value the absolute value of money they were getting. They actually valued how much more they were getting as a raise relative to others.
In other words, they did not care much about the value of money they were getting, instead, they cared much more about the value of themselves relative to others!
So, for someone who got $80k while rest of his peers were getting $77k found it more satisfying compared to another person who and his peers were all getting an equal pay of $85k.
Why does this matter?
It matters because – If being satisfied and being happy is our ultimate goal, We often don’t look at ourselves in a vacuum, but we look at us relative to others. This is very important. This is like saying, it doesn’t matter whether I had 10 bananas that will quench my hunger, but what really matters is if I had more than the person next to me.
We need to understand the fact that, after our basic needs are met, we want to grow faster than others around us than just absolute money value of salary raises and promotions.
And that can happen one way and one way only. Every manager, every executive makes their decision who to promote and who to give a raise not based on widely considered parameters like how much experience you have, but purely based on who is the best-prepared person to take on that role.
And the best-prepared person is decided not based on some test they conduct, but based on how much more do you do beyond your current role and how well you display glimpses of performing your future role.
So, it doesn’t matter which company you work for, which boss you work for, though they play a little role in deciding your career progress, the biggest contribution comes from one factor – YOUR PERSONAL GROWTH. And there is only one person that can influence that – You!
In the next blog, we’ll find what are some basic actions we can take to get unstuck!
Question for you: If you want to grow yourself professionally, what is the one area that you wish you focused on? Leave your answers in the comments section
If you have missed our earlier blogs in the series, check them out below
First post of the series -> The #1 reason 7 out of 10 tech professionals fail in their careers
Second post of the series -> Should I stay with my company or Should I leave? How would I know?