Do you know your change cycle–the length of time before you need a significant change in your work or work environment? Getting a sense of this is a critical component for your professional well-being.
I know one executive who is very aware of his change cycle and begins aggressively taking action around the three-year mark. Because he has a shorter cycle, he stays actively engaged in cultivating his networks and tending other career management tasks that those with longer cycles might let languish.
Your cycle may be longer or shorter than his, depending on your needs both at work and at home, the company and its opportunities for growth, as well as what is occurring in the industry.
When you are not aware of or in tune with your cycle, it can feel and look like burn-out, or seem like the company has changed and is going in a direction you can’t support, or it may seem like you’re at a crossroads in your life. And all of these could be true. But when you can clearly identify that your change cycle is a factor in your unease, any other contributing factors take on a more normal size. Boredom is a lot simpler and lighter to address than burn-out, as is “I just need a change” rather than “the company has changed.”
I have seen people (myself included) overshoot their change cycles, when they may have been handling a significant challenge professionally or personally that extended over a period of time. I have also seen people (like my clients and others engaged in their development) who are experiencing significant growth and development have that their cycles accelerate: they are eager to take on the next challenge or discover work aligned with a vision that has become even clearer and more compelling.
So, how do you discover your change cycle if you do not know it? A review of your work history can help reveal patterns, like the amount of time before a change in substance or venue. How long was it before you were taking on a new role within the same company, shifting to a new industry, founding or selling a company? In hindsight, why did you stay or why did you go? And how can you use that data in the future to alert you to where you are in your cycle or to a need to prepare for a change?
As you progress in your career, you have more data to work with and can fine-tune your understanding. This is when knowing yourself is elegant, satisfying, and infinitely practical. You benefit, as does everyone with whom you interact.
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