Years ago I was reading a local blog where the writer was referencing an article from Raleigh, NC, comparing the city of Syracuse with the city of Raleigh. Raleigh ranks higher than Syracuse in many areas as far as cities go and to many seemed to have a lot more things of interest than central New York did. Yet the writer of the article found that Syracuse had something it lacks, that being an area of downtown that has a vibrancy, a mix of restaurants and nightclubs and luxury apartments, and wishes it had the same; we call it Armory Square, and it’s a pretty fantastic area.


Armory Square

I found it all intriguing because it reminds me of how some employees at times look at what someone else has, perceives they’re lacking something because of what they “know”, when, if compared to someone else in all areas, they’re probably close to the same thing, if not better.

I’ll use my ex-wife as a quick example here if I may. She worked at one hospital that paid her fairly nicely. She decided she wanted to do something else so she left that hospital for one that would train her in a field she wanted to work in. She took what some might consider a substantial decrease in pay for the opportunity, and she wasn’t happy about it at all. She started thinking about going back to the other place because, even though she enjoyed the new place, she wondered whether she had given away too much to come to the new place. Few people take pay cuts to learn how to do something else; it can be scary.

At the time I told her that, contrary to popular belief, she was actually bringing home more money than she was at the other place, the insurance benefits were much better, and our overall access to health care was immensely better, including the cost of pharmaceuticals. On top of that, the reality was that if she went back to the other place she’d never have a chance at trying to get certification she wanted because the other facility wasn’t going to help her get it. I helped her see that her decision to be where she’d moved to was the best decision she ever made.

Many times employees think that the grass is greener on the other side; sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. If your working conditions aren’t all that bad, and the only reason you leave is for the money, you might find that you’ve just made a deal with the devil for the dollar; was it worth it?

I’ve known a lot of people who stayed at an employer for the money and fear instead of happiness; who wants to be miserable every day at work? I’ve “fired” clients who gave me internal grief because they were difficult to work with; the dollars becomes less important when my stomach is bunched in knots; I didn’t become self employed to deal with people who don’t really want the help I’m offering.

It reminds me of a cartoon by one of my favorite political and social cartoonists of all time, Jules Feiffer, in the book Jules Feiffer’s America which I’m lucky to own since it’s long been unavailable. Let me share the words with you:

Ever since I was a little kid I didn’t want to be me. I wanted to be Billie Widdledon. And,… Billie Widdledon didn’t even like me.

I walked like he walked. I talked like he talked. I signed up for the high school he signed up for. Which was when Billie Widdledon changed. He began to hang around Herby Vandeman. He walked like Herby Vandeman. He talked like Herby Vandeman.

He messed me up! I began to walk and talk like Billie Widdledon walking and talking like Herby Vandeman. And then it dawned on me that Herby Vandeman walked and talked like Joey Haverlin and Joey Havenlin walked and talked like Corky Sabinson.

So here I am walking and talking like Billie Widdledon’s imitation of Herby Vandeman’s version of Joey Haverlin trying to walk and talk like Corky Sabinson. And who do you think Corky Sabinson is always walking and talking like?

Of all people — dopey Kenny Wellington — that little pest who walks and talks like me.

Sometimes change is a good thing. Sometimes it’s better to stay where you are. Everything in your life that’s a big deal needs to be evaluated on many levels. If all you want it money, that decision is easy. If you want happiness, which might include learning a new skill, better insurance or more responsibility you’re going to have to think about all the merits of where you are, where you’ve been or where you want to go.

Sometimes you’ll find out that what you have is exactly what you want, and maybe you need a change in perspective. Sometimes you might decide you want a change, but you want to protect yourself long term. You can always start putting away money. You can always try learning more where you are before leaving. Whatever you do, make sure it’s what you actually want and not something someone else has that you believe you want.

Money, happiness, goals, respect… figure out what you really want in your life and career, then go for it.

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