Why You Should Change Jobs Every 4 to 5 Years

Business woman shaking hands

“Every day you get better or worse… But you don’t stay the same…” 

Legendary coach Bo Schlemberger used to tell this to his players.  It’s a profound statement. It has changed the way I looked at things.  Generally speaking, one could apply this to anything that’s important to us.  Health, Jobs, Relationships etc.  In this post I want to share my perspective on why changing jobs every 4 to 5 years should not be overlooked.

Success is the worst enemy: Most of us spend one-third or more of our waking hours at work.  We all look to be compensated one way or the other.  Be it financial or non-financial recognition, we all look for the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.  Your employer is getting the best out of you.  They throw in enough carrots i.e. bonuses, spot awards, stocks, team recognition etc to keep you motivated.  How do you know YOU are getting the best out of yourself?  You don’t.  

I subscribe to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10000 hours rule.  In his book “Outliers”  Malcolm articulates in order to master a skill one needs to put in at least 10000 hours.  It’s an interesting concept.  When you take on a new job, it takes about 6 months to a year to settle in.  You learn the players.  You learn your role.  By year 1, you learn how to navigate the system.  By year 2, you put the learning behind you and start performing your best.  By end of year 2, you are at the top of your game. Year 3 and 4 you are coasting along.  You are the domain expert.  You know your job inside and out.  You are reaping the rewards.  Suddenly you realize you don’t want to rock the boat.  That’s when complacency sets in.  Most of us take comfort in this position. 

If there is anything to be afraid of, it is not failure but success.  Because success breeds complacency and success leads you to comfort.  This is when you need to force yourself to step out of your comfort zone. 

Impact on our mental well being: Neuroplasticity is the term used in medical circle to define how our brain changes as a result of experience or learning.  Contrary to popular belief, human brain continually adapts itself and rewires till we die.   One study performed recently by Cornell University showed how our neural networks are altered as we pickup a new skill.  The new skill could be learning a musical instrument or a language.    Even in old age, brain has the capability to grow new neurons.  There are studies that suggest that constant learning throughout our lives can decrease the risk of a disease like alzheimer’s by 35-40%.

If we are going to learn a new skill, why can’t we learn it where we spend majority of our time i.e. workplace, and get paid for it too!!

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