The last few weeks have been trying from a tech point of view. My lovely industrial-strength printer hit the skids and stopped printing the bottom 3 inches of each document. The manufacturer no longer makes that model, and parts had to be “sourced.” The back-up printer was out of ink, and the scanning function was calling for a long-forgotten password.

I felt frustrated, discouraged, stressed, and out of sorts. Everything took longer. I couldn’t follow my normal business processes. I would be constantly thinking about work-arounds instead of the most direct way to do anything.

Interestingly, lots of my clients and friends had printer issues last week, too. One had to rush to Kinko’s to print a few resumes. Another said her scanning feature was never set up. One proofed a document on-screen, missing a major typo. Another sent the document to a friend to print, then drove 10 miles to pick it up. Why all this limping along? Why do we put up with tools that don’t serve us?

Because that’s the way a lot of us do life. We do work-arounds instead of finding something new.

Our jobs are multi-function tools, just like our printer-copier-scanner-faxes. At a minimum our jobs should provide:

  • Fair and competitive compensation
  • A genial group of coworkers and clients, some of whom become our friends
  • A constant source of challenge and learning
  • Recognition for our contributions – in effort, problem-solving and creativity
  • A source of satisfaction; belief that our work makes a difference

We can sometimes do a work-around and manage for a while without one of these components. Some of us do without three or even four, pushing through like some kind of a martyr who is forced to stay in place, working like a dog.

How do you know it’s time to start shopping for a new job?

  • You feel a disconnect between your organization’s or boss’ actions and your own values.
  • You feel more loyalty to your customers than you do to your company.
  • Your immediate supervisor is so consumed with meetings that there is no time left for leading, mentoring, training, or simply answering your questions.
  • You feel that you haven’t learned, grown or been challenged in a long time.
  • Your contributions go unacknowledged.
  • You can’t remember the last time you felt satisfied.

My printer issue was solved with a new machine. After some serious shopping, feature comparisons, cost projections and lots of calls, I settled on an impressive model that will serve me for years to come. I’m back in business, feeling pretty successful and smart.

Are you constantly trying to find work-arounds in your work life? Why not spend the energy shopping for a new job? Yes, the transition can be painful. Taking the plunge is a little nervy, but you can do it.

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