Life Moves

The following blog is by Kristen Wolfe.

Recently I connected with a friend who had just returned from the east coast. As we broke into small talk and chatted about our lives, the all too familiar question popped up: “How are you liking your new job?”

From the way social media portrayed it, I assumed her job was nothing less than amazing and drool-worthy (those Instagram and Vine posts had to be true!). Her response quickly deflated the fantasy bubble floating above my head. “It’s okay. It’s just a job”, she said. She went on to say what a difference working in Minnesota was compared to back east. It wasn’t necessarily the job itself but the culture was less than pleasing.

As an Illinois/Chicago native and somewhat recent transplant, I could relate. When the words “passive aggressive” spilled out of her mouth, I winced and patted her arm--letting her know how much I felt her pain.

As we continued talking about work, I asked her what she was going to do next and she responded with: “I’m actually thinking about my next life move.”

Her words really resonated with me as I had continuously thought about this over the past eight years. Since the average lifespan of a position--especially in fundraising and development--is estimated to be about 13-17 months, it should be the question every young fundraising professional thinks about regularly... or at least every 6 months.

It’s important to take a moment to really think about whether or not this change will contribute to your long-term goal and if you’re making this move for the right reason. While it’s hard to deny that entry to mid-level positions can become redundant and less challenging, consider the first of two options before making a change--talk with your supervisor. Sometimes all you have to do is ask and that can make all the difference.

If you’ve considered that option or even tried with failing results, then update your resume and begin your search. Keep in mind, however, that if you’re simply making the move because of an intolerable Minnesota nice co-worker or supervisor, you will in fact find them at your next place of employment. It’s best to learn how to survive and do so quickly if you intend to stay long-term. I suggest practicing some emotional restraint and gaining some coping skills.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the more moves you make, the harder it is to be clearly focused on the ultimate goal, whatever that may be. For me, the decision has been to make life moves once the opportunity for growth no longer exists. I view my resume as a toolkit of skills and knowledge developed over the years through multiple positions that offer me a chance to learn and contribute--not by the number of years I’ve stayed.

Speaking with your boss openly and honestly can make all the difference when considering your next life move. Sometimes by simply asking and stating the case for more responsibility, a life move can happen sooner than anticipated without changing jobs. If you are a transplant like me, telling people how you feel shouldn’t be hard to do. However, be forewarned, this attribute may not be appreciated at first. If the investment is not there from your supervisor or organization and you’ve given it that old college try, take the time to research and begin the first leg of your job search. Just remember to keep the big picture goal in mind so you aren’t making an uncalculated move based on boredom and feelings.

As a somewhat constant “mover” (five jobs in eight years), I’ve found the most knowledgeable thing I’ve learned from mentors and references is to talk with my supervisor before jumping into a job search and putting my non-passive aggressive powers into action. You will never know what your options for growth or change might be if you never ask. Asking also gives you the opportunity to find your voice and assert yourself as a worthy, go-get-em young professional in a middle-aged, versed in life moves kind of world.

So, when you are getting that itch to make your next life move, consider the options and make sure whatever you choose works for you!

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