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Job hopping and the illusion of the perfect choice

Job hopping can lead us into paralysis analysis

Job hopping is the new normal

As we know, job hopping is becoming the norm for Millennials but not only. Their predecessors, members of the Gen X and baby boomers, report a similar behavior. A Careerbuilder survey shows that 45% of employees plan to stay with their employer for less than two years. The underlying assumption is that somewhere out there is the perfect job that will make us absolutely happy. And, if we do not get it, we will be completely unfulfilled for the rest of our lives. Or at least not be as happy as we could possibly be. But because we need to make a perfect decision, we do not make any at all.

Job-hopping and the paradox of choice

This makes us end up in analysis paralysis. And even if we do make a decision, this angst translates into a reduction of the satisfaction with any decision we ever make. The American sociologist Barry Schwartz calls this phenomenon the Paradox Of Choice. He describes the fact of having several choices as a wonderful thing. They actually help us exercise our free will and our intellect. But the problem is when we have too many choices. The more options we have, the easier it is to regret anything at all that is disappointing about the option that we chose. What happens is that the imagined alternative that the other options present, induces us to regret the decision we made. And this regret subtracts from the satisfaction we get out of the decision we made, even if it was a good one.

Job hopping and the perfect choice

And that is why we cannot escape this job-hopping mode. A permanent search for the perfect job. And in a world of perfect, fine is not good enough. In a world of perfect, good is not good enough. Kierkegaard described very well this then-new idea of angst, “a condition where we understand how many choices we face, and how little understanding we can ever have, of how to exercise these choices wisely.” We constantly change jobs with the false illusion to find the perfect one.

Job hopping is not the key to contentment

The point is that there is not such thing as the best job out there. It is not what we do that will make us happy. Instead, it is how we do it. Therefore, it is how we bring our own life purpose to what we do, instead of trying to find our purpose in it. Once we understand that life is not about self-fulfillment but self-donation, not about self-gratification, but self-giving, we will stop job hopping. We will be able to transcend the paradox of choice and find contentment in the present moment, in the present job. 

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Artwork courtesy of FRG Gallery

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