I’m the first to admit I’m really bad at taking care of plants. In college I would forget to water plants until they looked bedraggled and pretty much beyond recovery. Fortunately for me, I had a friend down the hall who would lovingly take in plants that I’d leave in front of her door when it seemed like they were past hope. She had some magic environment in her room, somehow, that would nurse plants back to life and better than ever.

Fast forward, to my current plants (who did they piss off in a former life to become my plant? you have to wonder). Someone gave me a small bonsai tree as a present not so long ago. It’s been in my office in a corner, and although by this point in my life I do actually remember to water plants, it’s been in kind of sad shape throughout its life in my office.

The plant was not looking so hot until recently, when I moved it right next to a window. It went from barely-hanging-on to thriving, with 8 new shoots in a few weeks and 6 new ones about to burst into existence. Incredible! It suddenly seems like a very happy, energetic and productive plant!

 What does this have to do with career change, you ask?

I remember being in Corporate America in Human Resources and seeing some people who really seemed to be floundering in their jobs, in the barely-hanging-on stage. They’d be walking around the office with a stressed-out, “I hate it here” look on their faces. Who knows why, really; it could have been bad management, the wrong role for them, a ridiculous commute, or office culture. What seemed odd to me was that these were the same people who had outstanding references from their previous places of employment and who had started at the company with a happy disposition and lots of energy. Somehow the company was turning them into the equivalent of my plant in the corner, lifeless and sad.

In any case, they would eventually leave the company for some new job. Soon after leaving the roles or companies that weren’t right for them, once they found the right “home”, they perked right back up and started being creative and happy again in their new roles.

The truth is, some environments just aren’t right for us. We tend to stay where we are because we know what we’ve got, or we’re worried about money, or we don’t know what else to do. The question to ponder is … what environments encourage you to be your best self?

You may find with a change of scenery that you’ll start getting the sunlight and attention YOU want and need in order to grow in your career.

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