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Ask Ramit: “Should I change jobs or improve the one I have?”

34 Comments- Get free updates of new posts here

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It’s interesting when people let their barriers slip out in their actual language. Usually, they don’t even realize they’re doing it. But Detective Sethi is on the case:

Guy 1: “So you started going to the gym?”
Guy 2: “Yeah, I actually kinda like it now.”
Guy 1: “So you’re saying I’d have to go to the gym every day for the rest of my life to lose weight? I could never do that!”

Guy 1 is demonstrating an example of an “extreme-reach barrier” — the assumption that if you want to do something, you have to go to the COMPLETE EXTREME to do it at all.

This allows him to rationalize the fact that he doesn’t go, even though he could get benefits from going 2-3 times per week. I hate him.

Another way we do this is by creating false dichotomies. “Ramit, should I do X or Y?”

My answer is usually “Yes and yes.” This is the idea that top performers don’t do X or Y — they do both, and they’re better at it than everyone else.

If this is intimidating, go away. This site is about being the best, not about doing what’s easiest.

But if you want more details on how exactly to think about making tough choices, I recorded a new Ask Ramit video for you:

“I’m 52. Have I waited too long to try for a new or better career or should I focus on what I’m doing now better?”
-IWT reader Laura

Check out the video, where I dig in to highlight the barriers hidden in her question.

I take a lot of time to record these videos for you, so let me know what you think in the comments.

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  1. Thank you for this response. I having been considering whether it’s worth accepting an offer to start a work related 1-2 year post graduate level course since I am considering a career change to a completely different field. This video has made re think my stance, which has been that it’s not worth taking up the offer…..are there any exceptions to the yes and yes rule?

    • Maybe you should reframe your question, to “How can I do A and B?”

      There’s a bit of a false dichotomy here, in that taking the course is a concrete action, whereas “considering a career change” isn’t actionable. So perhaps you can identify what the first step in a career change is–maybe, take two or three people in the other field out to coffee to learn more about it–and ask yourself:

      “Can I take this post-graduate course AND start networking in the new field I’m interested in?”

      My guess is that the answer is “Yes and Yes.”

    • Mea – To answer your question…yes and yes!

  2. Yes & Yes! Love it Ramit! Thanks for the video.

    As you said, you put a lot of time in these videos but I’m one of the people that actually get excited when I see a new video from you. I read all of your emails and notes that I get through my email but I feel the videos reach a deeper level of interaction and thus, benefit me more that just text.

    So thanks again for taking the time to put these out there!

  3. Great video. Confirms that I’m on the right path – pursuing a career change with DJ techniques without taking my foot off the gas at my current job.

  4. This is a good mini wake-up call. It’s interesting to see pointed out, and I definitely can see in myself that I have a tendency to frame a question in a way that makes it likely to receive the response I want to hear. Will take a note to start thinking in terms of “how can I do a AND b” rather than “should I do a OR b”.

    I agree with Todd about the videos. I retain information best when I can hear and watch it being communicated in addition to reading it in a post or taking notes, so I find the videos very useful. Thanks for the hard work!

  5. I love the combination of a post with a video. You’ve got a brash writing style that I personally enjoy, but might be presumed cocky by some. The video provides the content and represents your personality by allowing you to use your sarcasm/humor more effectively.

    Great job.

  6. Thanks Ramit! Glad to know I’m on the right track. I’m still pushing forward with the school I need to pursue economics, earning A’s and retaking key classes where I don’t at least make a high B, and doing some deep research before natural networking. I’m also trying to excel in my job at the CG. Hopefully I’ll be sitting the competitive exam in November for advancement. (Meritocracies are stressful, because this test is extremely difficult.) I’ve been studying and making flashcards, which is about the only study aid I’m clear to bring into work with me. Yes, it is hard. I’m creating far more work for myself than I would if I just picked one. But I could hit a point in one of these tracks at any point where I just want to throw in the towel, and by pursuing the other as well, I still get to keep moving forward when and if that happens.

  7. I would even go further and find out to make sure that the problem is identified properly. Why is she considering changing her career? Is it because her current career isn’t what she wants it to be? Is there something she is significantly more passionate about? How about finding ways to make her current career more appealing by exploring new avenues within the field? Perhaps she will get to the same questions, but not knowing if she has gone through the discipline of defining the problem accurately may lead to the same dissatisfaction she is experiencing now.

    I am using the “Yes and Yes” method now as I just met with a mentor who asked me to do some work with his company as a consultant. This is my first side job lead! Thanks, Ramit, for pushing me toward action. There are other income streams I’m exploring as well. As I prepare to do this, rather than ask myself if I should spend more time with my family or start doing side projects, I am seeking the answer to: “How do I develop multiple income streams that will allow me to spend more time with my family in the long term?” Great stuff, Ramit!! Keep it coming!

  8. This is an AWESOME video Ramit. It is a topic I have been thinking a lot about lately. I am 43, and in process of creating a new career. I had always approached it in my head in a whiney, victim way of ‘ I don’t like my job, I have to get out, I want a better career’. What I realized months ago is that I need create that better career and also step up my game in my current career. I don’t think we can choose to give it our all in one area of our life, people who are succeeders give their all in ALL areas of their life. I can do better in my career, get more out of it, which will feel better and bring in more money, as well as create my dream career. Then I will know I’ve truly succeeded. Thanks!

  9. Thanks Ramit. This shows that one need to work double time to say Yes and Yes. I wonder if it’s strategic to spend more time on the existing when you want to learn as much as you can about the DJ?
    Folks who have children would find a challenge to do both at peak optimum level, maybe?

  10. I’ve learned recently that life really is just all about how you frame it.

    For example, my self talk (the internal monologue in your head) tended to be overly critical of myself in work, sports, and life in general. I always thought that I just held high expectations for myself and nothing more. I never recognized how overly critical and negative I was to myself.

    Recently, I’ve desired to work toward increasing my self-esteem/confidence/worth, and to do that, I learned that I needed to consciously monitor my self talk. After consciously monitoring my self talk for a few months I realized how critical it was, nagging and sometimes berating. It was the best thing I could have learned. Since then, I have worked toward making more rational/logical self talk and smarter thought patterns.

    How does this relate to “Should I?”/ “How can I?” It’s all about how you frame it. “It” being my self talk or the question (should I?) of video topic. The concept of “framing” thoughts or questions is one of those truisms we all “sort of” know throughout life. Well, I sort of kind that I could be hard on myself. I didn’t KNOW that I was unnecessarily critical and being destructive. Re-framing my self talk has led me to be more accepting of myself, working towards more happiness, and even to bettering my golf game by 10 strokes!

    If something looks suspiciously negative, try to re-frame it and see how you can find a better truth out of the situation.

    Great video Ramit, and thanks for posting!