When you've been in a career for years, there comes a time when you wonder if you should be moving on. Perhaps you're not making enough money to cover the cost of inflation. Maybe there are no opportunities for advancement. It may be that you're feeling disrespected. Perhaps it's that you're bored and need a change. Whatever your reason, the decision is laden with fear and uncertainties, and you're asking yourself: "What if it's the wrong move."
Should I stay or should I go? Here's how to make the right career choice.
Darcy Eikenberg, PCC—also known as Coach Darcy
Red Cape Revolution
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[00:04] Debra Jones: Welcome to OWN THE GREY, a podcast to dispel the notion that aging is undesirable and setting new positive attitudes. I'm Debra Jones, and I believe you can be vibrant and healthy throughout the best years of your life. When you've been in a career for many years, there comes a time when you wonder if you should be moving on. Perhaps you're not making enough money to COVID the cost of inflation. Maybe there are no opportunities for advancement. It may be that you're feeling disrespected and just. Maybe it's that you're bored and need a change. For whatever your reason, the decision is laden with fear and uncertainties, and you're asking yourself, “What if it's the wrong move?” These are uncertain times, and we're all reviewing our lives and especially the way we spend our working hours. What if escaping from your career in THE GREAT RESIGNATION resulted in the great regret? That's the question on everyone's mind. Thankfully, my next guest is an expert in reinventing her own career, and she's here to help make sure that you make the right choice. She's the author of Bring Your Superpowers to Work: your Guide to More Clarity, Confidence and Control, and most recently, Red Cape Rescue: Save your career without leaving your Job.
Coach Darcy Eisenberg is a graduate of Northwestern University and has shared her revolutionary ideas in the Harvard Business Review and Forbes, among many other business publications. I invited her on to OWN THE GREY to share her wisdom and tips that can help you make the right decision between “Should I stay or should I go?” Welcome to OWN THE GREY, Coach Darcy.
[02:13] Coach Darcy: Oh, thank you so much for having me here today. It's a great conversation and you raised some great points already.
[02:21] Debra Jones: Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to talk to our listeners about a subject that can keep us up at night, which is making a career decision that can turn our life the right way up or upside down. So I'd like to jump right in and ask you, when someone is considering quitting their job, what's the first thing you would say to them?
[02:47] Coach Darcy: Yeah, I think we all get those moments, right, where we hit a speed bump, something goes wrong, and we just think, well, I just need to quit. I just need to leave. And it's precisely at those moments where I advise people to stop and pay attention to what's really going on and what might be more in their control than they think it is. Because too often the conventional wisdom tells us we have no control, that if something's going wrong at work, your only option is to go somewhere else. But just as you were saying and this is actually happening to quite a few people who left when either things got confusing, things got hard, there were mixed messages about their opportunities and then got to a new place and realized, I'm having the same issues. The same challenges are coming up, the same struggles are coming up.
[03:51] Debra Jones: Right?
[03:51] Coach Darcy: And so I say when someone is asking themselves should I stay or should I go? The first job is to recognize, am I taking advantage of the things that I already control? And the truth is, we only control three things; we control everything we say, everything we do, and everything we think. And very often we don't recognize that we haven't spoken up and asked a better question or asked for something else that we need that's not going well. Or we're making assumptions. Our thoughts can go haywire about, well, of course they're not giving me the promotion because of this or because of that. How do we know? So I always think that oftentimes there is more to do on ourselves before we make a bigger decision. Now, that is not saying and just because the subtitle of my book is save your career without leaving your job, then I'm an advocate for never leaving your job. There are always times when it's time to move on. It may be that there's just you have explored every avenue and the growth where you are isn't the growth that you want. That's great? It may be that there's something that's going on that's inappropriate against your values. Absolutely. Move on. This is not to say stay stuck and suffering and stay somewhere. It's really to say when you're making a decision, make a conscious decision. And in the book and in my work, we give you different tools to be able to do that, to how to take back control of your career without having to give everything else up, without suffering or sacrifice.
[05:52] Debra Jones: Interesting. So then these ideas I mean, yes, someone can get your book and learn all about these things, but we want to just talk about it on the podcast here, about what kinds of questions should we be asking ourselves.
[06:09] Coach Darcy: I think the first question we should ask ourselves is what do I really want? Because the easy question for people to go to is what they don't want. Oh, my boss doesn't listen. They don't support me. I don't want that. Or the hours the workload is just overwhelming. I don't want that. Well, getting clear on what we do want is the first lens and to not assume because there are some people that don't care about the hours of the workload as long as it's the right kind of work or as long as they can work in the places where they want to work. We all have different needs based on our values, based on what our personal and family situation is, and based on how we want to grow, where we are in our season of life and our season of our career. And one of the worst things we can do is make assumptions. Well, I should want to be moving to the next level and I don't see that happening here. Well, is that something you really want? For what reason? Is it for wealth generation, which is great? Is it like, yeah, I really want to make more money? Or is it I want more opportunity or I want more impact? So this is deeper work that we often don't do for ourselves. And I think a lot of times when we get to this place where we're stuck and we feel like our only answer is out there, the biggest thing that we can do is spend some time doing the work in here, in ourselves.
[07:49] Debra Jones: Yeah, I can totally relate to that. I mean, I'm not employed by anyone. I'm self employed, yet I still had these feelings that I think I should be doing something more, something bigger. And I did exactly what you said. I decided to explore how I'm feeling and what do I want? And it wasn't really an easy question to answer. There's a lot of work involved and a lot of soul searching involved. And reaching out and getting some help and support is often a really good way to do that because the other person can see a different perspective rather than the one that we've been looking at all the time and not come up with their answers. Right.
[08:29] Coach Darcy: Yeah. And I will often say we can't read the label from inside the jar. We get very stuck in our own points of view or our own beliefs. This is back to how we can change and control our thoughts. We think this is how things always are. But being able to have another resource, a coach, a therapist, a mentor, somebody who can mirror back to you where you might be stuck on this is the truth when it might not be the truth. And one of the things that I hear very often, especially of people who have been in their careers for a while or been in the workforce for a while, is that, well, nobody will hire me after a certain age, and that's just not true anymore. But it's an assumption that can hold us back from even trying. And so being able to do that thoughts about ourselves, about what do we want? Who do we want to be around, what kind of environment do we want, what kind of impact do we want to make? What are the things that really serve what's important to us right now? And not - you use the word should, which of course is always loaded. Right. Not putting on things for ourselves that we really don't care about and being really honest with ourself about that in a way that sometimes we're not very honest. Well, I should want this big corporate promotion because it really looks good and it's like but I don't really care about that particular work or that particular company. Great decisions and clarity. The anchor to confidence and to courage. But we've got to get the clarity first.
[10:24] Debra Jones: Yeah. So you talk about the clarity. You talked about it in the book, the first book that I talked about, Bring Your Superpowers to Work. Are there some simple ways for us to get some more clarity? Yes, we can talk about what our values are. What do we value? Because our values do change over time, right? When we first got into the job, we had different values. And if you've been there 10/20 years, even your values will have changed. And so, yeah, that's definitely one thing to look at. But as far as getting clarity on if this job that I'm in, is there anything that I can do to control a better outcome for myself? Can you talk a little bit about that?
[11:17] Coach Darcy: Yeah, I think one of the things when you are not quite sure what you can control or where things could change is to do a fast forward. So sometimes I will have people do this exercise on paper to pick a spot in the future. Maybe it's three months down the road, maybe it's two, maybe it's three years. But to pick a fast forward and to write the story of if everything is like working out in an ideal way, like the thing that you're going to be like smiling ear to ear and just feeling like things are going great, what's that story look like? Because actually telling the story in reverse and not censoring yourself, not judging yourself, just like brain dumping it, just putting it all in. It's like, I go into work in the morning and my team is happy and, you know, and my boss comes in and says, great job on this, but just letting your imagination run wild. But when you put it on paper, it's getting more of a visual sense. What could that look like? And not censoring yourself, saying, she'll never do that, he'll never do that. Put the ideal out there first, and then you can pick out the spots where you can reverse engineer it. What would it take for that to happen? How would I take a few steps back? So if I don't have enough juicy projects at work and I feel I'm undervalued and my envision is that I'm really valued, what are the steps back? Maybe the first step is I need to share that. I need more juicy projects, and I need to define what that is. You know, less like this, more like this, and at least start to initiate the conversation. We can teach people how to treat us. We often think, well, they know, they see me, they hear me. We don't really. So if we teach people how to treat us, what are the things we need to say or how do we need to think differently about them, that they're not out to get us, but maybe there's something that they're there for us. Those are choices we can make.
[13:47] Debra Jones: I've actually said that quite often in my practice, too, is we teach people how to treat us. And really what that means is you can actually change the other person's reaction to you if you change a behavior or a habit or a thought pattern or something like that. And I think that's what you're saying is that we have some control over the way people treat us. Let's say, for instance, we're not getting the respect that we need at work rather than complaining to your spouse about it when you get home. I'm not getting that. Respect is well, what would gain you that respect? Is there something you could do? Is there something you could say or is there something you could address that's what you're saying, something you could address and just put the thought out there to whoever can help change that situation for you and give them something new to work with.
[14:46] Coach Darcy: I agree with that. And I also find that when we are longing for things like respect or trust or attention or care, one of the best strategies that we can use where we can take control is to give attention, trust, care. Often when we are not getting it reflected back to us in the workplace, it's that we are not initiating it and being a role model for it. And some of this is teaching people how to treat you that if I am not jumping to conclusions, if I am giving benefit of the doubt, then it may not happen instantly, but over time, people will do that of us. Or because we have shown that we can do that, we can then ask it of others. I have a specific request for you. I've noticed that when something goes wrong, you immediately think, it's my team. Could I ask you, could we do an experiment? Could we try something differently? That when the next thing that goes wrong, because it will. That before you send a note accusing my team of something, you come and talk to me.
[16:10] Debra Jones: Nice.
[16:10] Coach Darcy: So we work it out together. And it's recognizing that everybody has their own stuff going on, right? Everybody has their own assumptions and patterns and all we can control is ours. But we can ask people for different behavior. We can ask people to treat us differently or to try something different. And very often I've found people aren't even aware that they have a habit or that they have an assumption, or that they're always doing the thing right. And it's something that might get your habit.
[16:46] Debra Jones: Yeah, for sure. So I have a question about what if we're thinking of quitting because we're overwhelmed, because it's just too much. It's either too much workload or it's not fulfilling us. But it really feels overwhelming. Do you have any anything you can share about that?
[17:11] Coach Darcy: So at its essence, overwhelm is not about not having enough time. Overwhelm is actually about not making enough choices. And one of the things that I think has gone on in our workplaces continues to go on is that over time, tasks and shoulds and good to haves all kind of accumulate. And this happened a lot during COVID right? We changed different things in an instant, how we worked. But now that we are coming to more of a normalization, if there is anything as normal that we might still have habits, assumptions, ways of doing things, things we're actually doing that aren't needed anymore. I have a client I was just talking to today who realized that they had a series of meetings that when they were all remote and they were kind of in panic, figure it out mode, they needed those meetings. But then they started hardening and becoming just this is what we do now. They have those meetings and they realize we don't need those in the same way anymore. So can we just get rid of that? So I think one of the things I refer to this is drop some balls. But I think in everybody's job, no matter what you do, unless perhaps you are an emergency room worker on site where the work is coming at you unpredictably. In a lot of our traditional knowledge work, there is about 10-20% of things that if we just stopped doing them, would anybody notice. And it might be things like reports that used to be needed but aren't anymore because now we have a system, everybody can access it, or meetings where again, it's we're rehashing the same thing. Instead of an hour long meeting, could it actually be a ten minute update from everybody that goes into a shared space on video? There's different ways to think about all these less than necessary tasks that build up into our overwhelm. And for us personally, that's what we teach people how to treat us when we are always saying yes, when we are never being stingy about this is the work that I do best. This other stuff, just because I can, doesn't mean I should. And we're not just falling into the oh, well, it's just one little thing. Oh, it's just one little thing. Pretty soon all those things add up. And even the thing that doesn't take you long, it's not something that I refer to like being in your superpower space, like the place where you feel like you're soaring, like, this is super fun for me. It's not that it just adds to that feeling of overwhelm. Even if the darn thing literally really would only take 15 minutes, if you could make 15 minutes to sit down and hammer it out.
[20:32] Debra Jones: Yeah, I'm guilty of that. I really do resonate with that. Because being an entrepreneur, because we're not just talking about people who are hired as employees, but even as an entrepreneur with your business, we have to reevaluate that too. Do we keep going down the path we've been going on simply because we've been on it? Or do we reevaluate? And I think that point about reevaluating wherever you are employed or self employed is a crucial thing because as I said before, your values do change and things are not quite the same as when you first started something. So I have a question then, about your company Red Cape Revolution. It sounds like you're aiming for a transformation of sorts. So you've made some great points here and you've got some great tips, and the book, I'm sure, has got loads of them in there. But with this revolution, what are you hoping to transform and why?
[21:38] Coach Darcy: The idea behind Red Cape Revolution is the image of remembering when you were a kid and you grab a towel or a sheet and you throw it around your shoulders and you felt confident, you felt in control. What if we could feel that way every day in our lives at work? That's really the core of this revolution of why is it that we have this conversation about, oh, work is hard or work is bad, or doing the things that we get so much out of work? Everything that we benefit from in our world came from somebody, some company, something creating that that was their work. And I feel like we are in a stage where more of us have the opportunity to create the work that we want. That doesn't necessarily mean going out on your own and that's doing what you've done. That is certainly not a role everybody can do. But even within what seems like the most conservative or structured corporate organizations, the truth is most work is all made up. If you've ever worked with people who have the same title, but they all do something slightly different or they do it in a different way, then you know that it's all made up. So what do you need to make up for you? How do you need to revolutionize how you're thinking about work and get out of the mentality where you have to do this and more of like, I get to do this, I get to make this particular impact, I get to talk to these kinds of people. It's an aspiration, right? It's not certainly there are lots of people who the biggest thing that they need to do out of work is they need the paycheck, they support their family. But that doesn't mean that we can't spend that time at work feeling like we're being put upon or being the victim. I talked to a lot of leaders who they're hungry for people to say, “You know what? I see a different way where I could make a contribution, or this way we've got this job. It could be a little bit different.” Now, is it always easy to get those things in place? No. Sometimes there's people whose values to the point about values are safety and security and don't rock the boat. But the truth is that there's a lot of other opportunities for flexibility in different types of roles and making it what's right for you and continuing to get the things that you need, whether that's growth, whether that's being able to have a better future. But I think these are the things that we are ready to revolutionize right now. And that's kind of the core of all the work and the teaching that we do in my company.
[25:01] Debra Jones: It sounds like it's very in alignment with the kind of work that I'm doing, which is more about empowering people. So what I've heard you say is to empower yourself to, first of all, evaluate how you're feeling and what you want, and then to empower yourself to go ahead and try to make some of those changes to make your life better. So the empowerment piece, I think, is a really key thing because I love what you said about how we're making up our jobs, because we are. I am you know, every day I'm making it up. Which direction shall I go? Shall I focus on this? Shall I downplay that? We are all making it up as we go. And I think that statement in itself is going to open up a lot of people's eyes to realize that I have power to alter my situation, because we can't rely on someone fixing it or fixing us or making our life better. It really is up to us, isn't it?
[26:12] Coach Darcy: Definitely it is. And I think I will take a different perspective on the I think when people say, oh, you know, you're empowered, that feels like a responsibility. Sometimes it feels heavy. It can feel like, oh, well, I don't really feel like I have that much power, but I sometimes flip it to anywhere from permission to almost responsibility and opportunity because it's the what if part. Like, if I don't like what it is, what if it could be different rather than it will never be different? And one of the phrases that I like to use is, somebody out there needs you. And when we are sitting stuck or feeling frustrated or not making a decision, we get caught in the swirl. I'm not sure I like it here. I'm not sure I'm ready to go out and just don't make any decision. We're cheating somebody. We're cheating in some degree, it's ourselves. But it's well, whoever in the future that might need exactly what we have to bring, there might be the person in our company who needs us to step up or step out or speak up. But instead of thinking like, well, I'm the only one who's suffering here, and I'll just get along and whatever, life is hard. If I think somebody out there needs me, then I don't want them to hurt or suffer. I want to be able to help. And so sometimes that is a way to keep yourself motivated, to empower yourself, to give yourself permission to take some risks, to experiment, to ask some things a little differently and break out of the habits that you maybe had that aren't working for you any longer.
[28:09] Debra Jones: It sounds like you're really passionate about helping people find their way. Why did you write the book?
[28:19] Coach Darcy: I wrote the book primarily from over time, all of the conversations around my only option when something goes wrong at work is to leave that, you know, if there's no advancement here for me, I guess I have to go somewhere else. Not recognizing that a majority of promotions, roles, new projects that you take on aren't in place yet. I mean, there are things that you can make up that you can propose that maybe have not existed yet. I mean, I look at some of the companies that I get to work with and even just the departments and roles and work that didn't exist five years ago. So that's going to change, is going to happen anyway. Why not you? And so I do think that the book came in many ways out of “So great, I understand that I can take control over what I say, what I do, what I think, how do I do that?” And so in the book, there are three sections that go more specifically into different ways that you can change your thinking or test out different thinking, or how to say things, how to ask for what you need, how to change your story that you're telling about yourself and also then what to do, or in the case of I mentioned, drop the balls before, what not to do, what to stop doing, to help yourself get back to who you are at your very best who you are in your superpower space.
[29:56] Debra Jones: Wow, it sounds like a really powerful book and something that is a good read for anyone, no matter how you're feeling in your job, because it's all about new possibilities too. I mean, life should be exciting, shouldn't it? Life should be fun and joyful and you know, when we're stuck or when we're questioning what to do and you said going round and round in circles in your mind, that's not really living and life is short. We know this as a fact. We really need to take stock of our own lives and to make sure that it is something that we're proud of living in that way. We're proud of ourselves. We're feeling good about ourselves.
[30:41] Coach Darcy: I love the word that you use, the word proud of ourselves, because one of the things that I will often teach in a group workshop is what I call mastering the art of bragging. And this isn't bragging to put yourself one over somebody else, but it is actually being able to tell your story, to feel your story, to understand how you're making whatever impact it is that you want to make toward whatever things you want to make. And maybe it's as simple as I'm taking good care of my family or I'm on a learning path and it's not perfect, but I think we've got to start bragging about ourselves a little more and putting those good stories in the world because there's so many stories about everything that's broken or everything that's not working. And I'll often encourage a leader at the start of a meeting, just take 30 seconds for a person. What's one thing you're really proud of right now? What's one thing that's going well right now? Because inserting more of that and it's not false positivity we have a lot of things we need to work on and change and continue. But when we take the minute to recognize we're actually making some progress, it can feel lighter, it can put perspective on lots of different things. And it also can help others around you give them permission in many ways to not just be the complainer or the griper, but to actually be contributor to the answer, to try to help.
[32:18] Debra Jones: Yeah. There's one of my podcasts. It was about the law of attraction (E50). And so your idea of being grateful for something or tooting your own horn about something is an energy that attracts that kind of energy. So it actually brings more of that into your life.
[32:37] Coach Darcy: And then managing our energy is such an important thing that I don't think we teach people. There's millions of books about managing your time and classes. But your energy you can spend a lot of time doing something that is the stuff that you love to do, and it spends no energy at all. That it's like you feel great because it matched whatever the things that you need or the things that are welcome. And when you this is back to your question about overwhelmed. When you are doing things that drain you, it actually takes more energy, even if it's not a hard thing to do. So back to really being recognizing. We do put our energy out there. Others do respond to it. We're human beings, and that's just part of how we're built. And we're built the same way at work as we are at home.
[33:34] Debra Jones: Yeah, that's a really good point. So, Darcy, in your career, with the different careers that you've had, and you've obviously had to learn some of these things along the way, which is why you're the expert in it now. What stands out the most for some personal transformation that you've had along the way.
[34:01] Coach Darcy: I would say that some of the things I'm teaching, I'm still learning. Like these are things we have to reinforce with each other all the time. But what stands out the most is recognizing when I get a point where the assumptions that I had made that the next steps were the next steps up, the next steps were my boss job, the next steps were the steps everybody thought I should want, weren't what I wanted. And when you're following a plan that you've never stopped to say is that my plan, or is it somebody else's plan, or is that the TV movie version of the plan that I should have for me? I tell this story that happened in a McDonald's parking lot. I had pulled over to take a phone call from my boss and she told me that she was retiring. And in the same note, the same conversation told me one of my peers was getting her job. And I was relieved. I was like and I never really realized I didn't want that job. That was the job everybody would have expected I would have wanted. So if I didn't want what was predictable, what did I want? And that question and that revelation probably was my biggest transformation to lead me on the journey that's taken me here today. It's when I first started recognizing I needed external help. I needed to find I didn't necessarily have the words at the time, but a coach, somebody to be able to read the label from, you know, that I was too stuck inside the jar and to be able to just help me look at things from a different perspective. And I've had coaches all through my career since and it's incredibly valuable. But I think we're always making some level of transformation. But that's probably the most dramatic one that comes to mind.
[36:14] Debra Jones: Yeah, that's beautiful. I do know that the things that we go through, we're going through to learn a lesson about it. But I also believe that our experiences and the trials and tribulations that we have while we go through it end up being things that we can help others through. And that's exactly what you're doing with your book and with your coaching and that's what makes you the expert in what you're doing. And so if anybody wants to go in that direction with some coaching or even to take a look at what Coach Darcy says about all of these things in her books, simply go to her website at RedCapeRevolution.com. I'll put the link in the show notes and when they get there Darcy, what are they going to find?
[37:05] Coach Darcy: So at RedCapeRevolution.com I think one of the first things that I'd suggest someone do is join our insider community. It's totally free. Every week I send a little note. It's not really a newsletter. It's almost just like a little story, a little tidbit, something to think about for the week along with if there's a resource or a new article, something to share and something that you can share with others. So that's the insider community and there's a shortcut for that at RedCapeInsider.com. I think that's a great place to start because that's where I share everything first before I share it everywhere else. We also do have a pretty robust Free Tools page where you can go into different questions that you might have and then find links to other free tools that are within there. So all those things are accessible as well as information about me around coaching and around speaking that I do.
[38:03] Debra Jones: Awesome! Well, thank you so much for the work that you're doing in the world. You're making a difference. I love that.
[38:08] Coach Darcy: Well, thank you, too, and the work that you're doing, I think that we all need people who we can rely on and to give us good insights and to help us think and sometimes recognize that we need to be able to feel these things, too. It's equally important. So thank you for having me on.
[38:27] Debra Jones: If you enjoyed this episode and are inspired to discover more ways to live your best life, I invite you to go to DebraJones.ca - Scroll down and subscribe to stay connected. I promise to only email once a month with new episodes.