Career Decisions: 10 Signs It’s Time to Respond to Change in Your Work Life

A friend of mine once expressed in a resigned tone of voice “it’s better to be in a bad relationship than no relationship at all.” While we both knew this was not the right way to think about personal relationships and well-being, we recognized fear of the unknown loomed large.

The Gray Rhino Moment of Truth

Michele Wucker wrote a book entitled The Gray Rhino, How To Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore. She wrote about the abundant early warnings preceding economic, environmental, and economic crisis situations. She states a Gray Rhino is a highly probable, high impact threat; something we ought to see coming, like a two-ton rhinoceros aiming its horn in our direction and preparing to charge.
Gray Rhino book cover artWhy do we miss the big beast who has been giving us signals for a long time? Especially when it is in our best interests—and often our control— to prevent the situation altogether.

As Michele points out, humans avoid change. We freeze. We kick the can down the road. We bargain. Anything to deny what’s up ahead.

Respond to Workplace Change

The same holds true for workplace situations that scream for action.

We find it is easier (or so we think) to live with what we know rather than venture into the unknown. Denial of negative environments and fear of making a change take over.

Yet there are times when you just know your work situation must change. You avoid the early warning signals. Even as work conditions worsen, your protective blinders prevent you from acknowledging the truth.

Good news! There is a solution for your avoidance affliction.

Respond to Change typography art

Respond to change around you, rather than wait for problems to sweep in with a torturous roar. Dealing with the disruption of managed change is far easier than unwelcome surprises.

Refer to the Respond to Change Principle offered in the Career Agility Model.

If you take the time to be honest with yourself, the theatre of our life’s work is flush with opportunities to respond. These opportunities may be obvious to us; other times they are more subtle.

Instincts and Signals

There is likely a voice in your head telling you it’s time for change. This helpful voice plays the role of healthy banter and reflection prior to making a decision. The inner voice is often met with one of the following 10 reactions:

  1. I want something better, but I don’t want to upset my life or my family.
  2. Every time I get ready to make a powerful decision, fear gets in the way.
  3. My industry is collapsing, and I wonder if it’s possible to move to another industry or another role.
  4. There are so many new developments and uncertainty in the business environment, I don’t know the most relevant place to focus.
  5. The business models in my industry have changed, and my role will become obsolete; it’s not a matter of if, but when.
  6. My boss is impossible, but maybe he will leave and I can stay at my current job; my job isn’t that bad. It’s the job I know.
  7. I’ve been passed over for a promotion, and new management is moving in.
  8. There is so much change going on out there, I don’t know how to respond.
  9. There is so much stress that quitting right now is the best thing. I will figure out next steps later.
  10. Maybe I should start a business since working for corporations does not agree with me.

Sound familiar?

These thoughts and feelings are your early warning signals that now is the time to consider a more relevant role or a new job opportunity.

Let Go of Fear and Inaction

Within my own career path, there were times when I was totally blindsided by events. Like the time I walked into the office at Twenty South Riverside Plaza in Chicago, ready to start my workday. After ten months on the job with a digital spin-off business, all thirty employees were rounded up into a conference room. The entire group was let go in unison by a parent company executive.

In spite of the instant unemployment status, I first responded to this change with a sigh of relief. It had been a tough year. The parent company suffered from helicopter behavior, not quite ready to let the “child” company flourish on its own terms.

My second response? I packaged up my startup background and found a perfectly aligned role at an agency helping companies with brand research and brand development. Making no apologies for my recent job loss, I emphasized the research experience and quality brand infrastructure work accomplished during my employment.

There is power in taking control when our firm footing is interrupted with unwelcome change. When times are-a-changing, so should you. How you respond to change is paramount to your ability to thrive as an agile careerist.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, employee, executive, or front line worker, you will benefit by welcoming change into your career compass calculations. Because change is a recurring element in your work environment (and life), it is advantageous to anticipate, rather than avoid the disruptive disturbances to the status quo.

Read Activate Your Agile Career  for compelling stories of how others have faced various types of change, and taken decisive action. Learn more about the Agile Careerist Project and how you get get started today with a mindset shift and a few key exercises.

How have you responded to workplace or industry change?

If you are interested in the future of work, career development, the workplace, personal branding, workforce trends/ideas, agility, or how to cultivate happy profitable employees, subscribe to Marti’s 52 Ideas.


Marti Konstant
Marti Konstant is a workplace futurist with an agile mindset. She is a career growth analyst, author, speaker, personal brand architect, and founder of the Agile Careerist Project™. What started out as a quest to fine-tune her evolving career sparked a research project, a book, and workshops, where future of work and career agility are central themes.

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