As I valiantly fought the annual Christmas lights battle again this year, detangling the matted mess of strings that were to be placed across the front of my house, it hit me (as it does every year): Why not just get rid of these lights and start over? 5 Reasons Not to Quit Your Job in 2017

Each year, we immerse ourselves in the after-holiday sales, where decorations go on sale for as much as 75% off. The purpose? To replace the strings of lights we disposed of after the last annual “Unveiling-of-the-Lights” fiasco, just a month earlier. For us, lights have become “disposable.” It’s easier to move on with another set than to keep trying.

We live in a do-over society—a culture where mulligans are the norm. And this culture doesn’t just apply to seasonal decorations. “Out with the old and in with the new” applies to the way many are beginning to view employment as well. It’s a new phenomenon that would have been completely foreign to previous generations of workers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate has plummeted, while the number of open positions has increased. We have entered the “Age of the Employee.” That means the Employee Experience—the sum of perceptions employees have about their interactions with the organization in which they work—is even more important to employee retention than ever before. So, employee, you have the upper hand in this game. And that’s a good thing… isn’t it?

It seems that as we approach the end of the year, we see a flood of articles with headlines like, “Why 2017 is the Year to Change Your Job.” While moving out of a toxic career makes sense, viewing a job as “disposable” can also be dangerous. So, before you quit your job, keep a few things in mind:

First, the logical side:

    1. Job switching is stressful. The well-known Holmes and Rahe stress scale ranks changes in employment as one of the most impactful of life’s stressors. Dismissal from work, business readjustment, change to a different line of work, and change in working hours all rank among adjustments that significantly affect personal health.
    2. There may be a waiting period. While the allure of different compensation or work environment may be enticing, a move may be also financially taxing, even if it doesn’t appear so when the job offer is accepted. For example, many companies have benefits policies that may not kick in for a period of time. Benefits like health insurance and 401(k) often have waiting periods that can be costly in both the short and long term.

And the not-so-logical, but equally important side:

  1. Mastery takes time. Let’s face it. For the first three months of employment, you’re more likely to be a liability than an asset, regardless of how valuable you think you are. Then, at the three-month mark, you may graduate from liability status to simply being a non-nuisance. It’s often not until (at least) the six-month mark that the real contribution kicks in. If a job shift occurs every 18 months (which is starting to be perceived by some as a sign of “promotability” or value), you might have less than a year of true productivity before moving on—not enough time to master a role. Yet, mastery has repeatedly been shown as one of the key factors in job engagement. Are you ready to spend a good part of 2017 as an apprentice again?
  2. Growth is a process. My first professional-level job was a real challenge. Because this was a retail job, the hours left little quality time for family. In that role, I was cursed at (many times), underpaid, confronted in supermarket parking lots, and dragged into court by dishonest employees. I quit, but it took me six years to do so! However, I’ll always value those years, because I grew. I’m grateful for all the times I was yelled at; they forced me to learn. I apply that learning nearly every day in my current profession. In an environment where jobs are disposable, too many take the easy way out of employment, and never grow because the grass is always greener elsewhere. Which brings up the next point…
  3. Maybe you’re the problem. Why are you thinking of making the switch? Working conditions? Growth opportunities? Compensation? All of these are valid reasons. But job interviews often reveal that employees’ reasons for leaving current or previous jobs boils down to what the employer supposedly does or doesn’t do. However, often it’s not just this job; it has become a pattern in their lives. What’s the common denominator here? Are most employers tyrants? Will that new job really value your talents more than your current job? Or, maybe… possibly…is the problem, you? Before making the move, it’s often valuable to look in the mirror. Do these same issues seem to follow you wherever you go?

Before you change jobs in 2017, consider the above. Maybe that switch isn’t what you want after all.

By the way, I know a guy who’s willing to pay well for untangling and hanging Christmas lights. Interested?