The last day

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

– Orson Welles

In the book by Daniel Pink entitled “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing”, chapter 5 talks about ENDINGS.

It’s one of the most interesting discussions of the book particularly when it talks about the core of meaningful endings, poignancy. Poignancy is a mix of happiness and sadness. For many, “the most powerful endings deliver poignancy because poignancy delivers significance…adding a small component of sadness to an otherwise happy moment elevates that moment rather than diminishes it.”

I’m not very good at goodbyes. Or endings, for that matter. After all, the best endings don’t leave us happy. “Instead, they produce something richer – a rush of unexpected insight. A fleeting moment of transcendence, the possibility that by discarding what we wanted we’ve gotten what we need.”

I’d like to believe that decisions have both good and bad news. The bad news is that the I feel sad leaving a new found “family” behind. But closings, conclusions, and culminations reveal something essential about the human condition: in the end, we seek meaning.

When I was writing this blog entry, I did not know how to end the story. Pink points out the “when’s” of our lives in such scientific relevance that I understood better why I decided what I decided.

(The following is lifted from his book entitled “When”, and is available currently at Fully Booked).

Many “when” decisions involve endings. There are five questions to help us decide. If your answer to two or more of these is no, it might be time to craft an end.

1. Do you want to be in this job on your next work anniversary?

People are most likely to leave a job on their one-year work anniversary. The second most likely time? Their two-year anniversary. The third? Their three-year anniversary. You get the idea. If you dream the thought of being at your job on your next work anniversary; start looking now. You’ll be better prepared when the time comes.

2. Is your current job both demanding and in your control?

The most fulfilling jobs share a common trait: They prod us to work at our highest level but in a way that we, not someone else, control. Jobs that are demanding but don’t offer autonomy burn us out. Jobs that offer autonomy but little challenge bore us. (And jobs that are neither demanding nor in our control are the worst of all.) If your job doesn’t provide both challenge and autonomy, and there’s nothing you can do to make things better, consider a move.

3. Does your boss allow you to do your best work?

In his excellent book Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to be the best…and learn from the worst, Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Robert Sutton explains the qualities that make someone worth working for. If your boss has your back, takes responsibility instead of blaming others, encourages your efforts but also gets out of your way, and displays a sense of humor rather than a raging temper, you’re probably in a good place. If your boss is the opposite, watch out – and maybe get out.

4. Are you outside the three- to five-year salary bump window?

One of the best ways to boost your pay is to switch organizations. And the best time to do that is often three to five years after you’ve started. This period represents the sweet spot for pay increases. Less than three years might be too little time to develop the most marketable skills. More than five years is when employees start becoming tied to their company and moving up its leadership ranks, which makes it more difficult to start somewhere else.

(While this was lifted straight from Pink’s book, my work experience has proven that this is the average time frame for “making it” or not, at the work force. If, after three years you’re not in a better place at work, it’s time to either re-examine yourself or leave the company.)

5. Does your daily work align with your long-term goals?

Ample research from many countries shows that when your individual goals align with those of your organization, you’re happier and more productive. So take a moment and list your top two goals for the next five years and ten years. If your current employer can help you reach them, great! If not, think about an ending.

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