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  • Writer's picturePGAA Tax

Risks vs. Rewards. How your brain gets in the way of getting the job you want


The human brain is a high-powered risk assessor. It learns through experience and then predicts what will happen in the future based on these previous experiences. Pretty simple, right?


While it is an efficient way to learn and create safety (a relaxed nervous system, low energy output), it can also keep us from seeking change and therefore progressing. This is especially true for anyone stuck in a job that doesn't fulfill them. Or worse, it explains why people stay with toxic bosses or toxic work cultures. It is because our brains tell us, "at least we know what to expect here," "at least we know how bad it is here," or, "it will just be the same somewhere else," or, "it could be even worse somewhere else."


What other reason is your brain telling you to stay safe, stay in a predictable environment, and reduce risks?


Yet, we all know, no risks mean no rewards. I am all for staying at a job where you feel safe, where it works, and where stress is low. I am talking to the people who are staying small, staying at a job that doesn't fulfill them, or people who are suffering in toxic work environments. This is for the people whose brains might tell them to stay, but their gut knows they want more, that there could be incredible rewards if they take the risk of making a change.


What is your brain telling you? Is your gut telling you something else?


Staying Stuck Justifications:

"I don't have the energy to look for a new job."


"I like my job/colleagues/commute/working from home."


"I need the salary. I can't afford to take a pay cut."


"There aren't any other jobs that would be better."


"I don't want to lose the benefits."


"I've invested too much to start over in a new organization."


"This job pays too well to leave."


"I don't have the skills to get a different job."


"Things might get better."


Are any themes popping out in these sentiments? Fear. Sunken cost fallacy. Scarcity mindset. All mindsets to keep you in a predictable, "safe," and sometimes toxic environment. Don't let your reptilian brain get the best of your frontal lobe. Believe changes can lead to improvements, and they will. Dream of what your life improved would look like. Believe it is out there for you, and it will find you. I will never forget a conversation with a VP of Tax I had where he said, "You wouldn't believe how many times I made a lateral move, a step-down, a pay cut. I just knew I needed to in order to keep moving in the direction I ultimately wanted."


Yet, putting yourself out there is vulnerable, and change is exhausting and hard. It could also be a total bust, or it could get worse! However, I truly believe there is no such thing as failure. I see all of it as growth opportunities, a chance to know ourselves better, and gifts of clarity.


It is all about perspective. If you are thinking you could be happier in a new role, a short conversation with Phil Guillen could help clarify what you seek. We are here for you!



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