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The Four "E"s of Career Change: Economy, Environment, Ego, Energy

By Edited Jun 27, 2015 0 0

Find the Career or Job You Want and Deserve


Facing a career or job change can be a major life event and can either be one of the most stressful or one of the most rewarding undertakings of one’s life.  If you are currently in, or are considering, a job or career transition, using the Four “E”s of Career Change can help you successfully navigate through the process by ensuring you give consideration to some aspects of career change that are frequently overlooked.

The Four “E”s were introduced to me by a colleague who had transitioned from a 30-year military career into the private sector and had learned some very important lessons along the way.   His very matter-of-fact advice on career transitions:  “Don’t get it wrong because undoing wrong choices can take a lot of time and effort, and possibly cost you a lot of money.  Get it right the first time – use the four ‘E’s:  Economy, Environment, Ego, and Energy.”

While the Four “E”s are by no means the full extent of what one should consider when deciding upon your next job or career, they do help you understand some of the less obvious, yet possibly most important considerations.  When considering the four “E”s, it is important to note that they must be considered together because, as you will discover as you read further, the various “E”s tend to operate on a give-and-take, or tradeoff basis.  More on this in a moment…

Let’s begin with the most simple of the Four “E”s, Economy.   There are two contexts to consider with Economy – the macro and the micro.  Looking at the micro context first, this simply means to give due consideration to how much money you need to support your desired lifestyle.   Do you want to sustain your current lifestyle or do you want to “take it up a notch”?  Some might even be willing to take a cut in total earnings if it means balancing out their lives by working less or moving to a more desirable geographic location (near family or away from cold winters, for example).   Simply put, you must know exactly (or nearly so) how much you must earn to achieve your desired lifestyle.  Arriving at this figure is a relatively straightforward math drill that can be taken care of in the time it takes to watch a sitcom.  Knowing this figure can help you be much more efficient in your transition by allowing you the strength of will to say “no, thanks!” to a job offer or negotiate upwards an offer that doesn’t meet your required figure.  Briefly, let’s look at Economy from the macro context.  Very simply, this means to give consideration to the bigger economic picture when considering a career or job transition.  Knowing whether a career field is “booming” or “busting” (or neither, for that matter) should be of great interest when considering any transition.  Put simply, “follow the boom, avoid the bust”…enough said.

Now, on to Environment which, put simply, can be thought of as the overall “situation” that is “attached to” the career or job.  There are many possible aspects to Environment ranging from the immediate workplace environment (be it high-pressure or friendly and relaxed) to the geographic location of the job, the daily commute, the types of people you encounter, etc.   In order to get the most utility out of considering Environment, you must complete at least some degree of self-assessment.   If you are currently employed, what are your likes and dislikes about your current job or career?  What would be some of the characteristics of your “dream” job?  Are there aspects about your job you would like to change and if so, at what cost?  Would you, or could you, accept a cut in pay to achieve these changes? Are you fulfilled by the nature of your work, or do you even need to be fulfilled by your work?  The list could go on and on (and on).. 

Now we are beginning to see some of the tradeoffs among the Four “E”s as mentioned earlier.  For example, are you willing to trade a less desirable Environment for a more desirable Economy (trading a low-stress job for a higher-paying yet more stressful job)?  Understanding what is important to you, what triggers your feelings of happiness (or unhappiness), and what gives you the most overall satisfaction (or frustration) is very important for you to understand.   Once you understand yourself in this way, you are in a far better position to either “laser focus” your search to the careers or jobs having the Environment you truly desire or it can, once again, help you to say “no, thanks!” to a job offer that has “attached to it” an Environment that does not meet your minimum criteria. 

Next on our list is Ego.  Using a real life example here is of benefit.  Recall that the colleague who was mentioned earlier in this article retired after a lengthy military career (30 years).  As might be expected, he had achieved some degree of importance in the military based on his achieved rank and experience.  Upon transitioning from the military and into the private sector, he was able to significantly increase his annual salary in his first private-sector job (one of the main reasons he chose that particular job).  Ironically, and very surprisingly for him, he now found himself reporting directly to certain individuals that were also former members of the military and that had actually previously worked for him!  Talk about “turning the tables”!  Either rightly or wrongly, the situation ultimately proved too much for him, mostly due to the very real impact of Ego.  This concept of Ego may, or may not, come into play in your own unique job or career transition circumstances.   It really comes down to recognizing that Ego could impact your level of job or career satisfaction and should be a consideration when making any transition decision.  Know yourself and do your homework on the specific job or career opportunity you are considering to learn whether or not you might find yourself in a situation that could “challenge” your ego.   In doing so, if you learn that you could find yourself in an “ego-challenging” environment, you will have the advance benefit of choosing to avoid the situation altogether or, at least, you will go into the Environment better-prepared to deal with any ego challenges as they occur.

The last of the Four “E”s, Energy, can most easily be understood by looking at the job or career under consideration and asking yourself the question: “do I have what it would take to get up every day and do that?”  If you are a 75 year-old applicant for a job that entails pushing wheelbarrows full of bricks around a construction site, the answer might clearly be “no”, based solely on physical considerations.  Yet, normally, the real answer requires a far more intuitive understanding of several other considerations that culminate in one’s level of motivation to do a particular job.  Of course age and physical health play a part here, but in order to truly understand and benefit from the concept of Energy as it pertains to Career Change you must first understand the other three “E”s - Economy, Environment, Ego – in the context of the specific job or career under consideration.  For example, the salary (Economy) may be so lucrative or it could be in the ideal workplace (Environment) that you are able to find the Energy required to be happy and successful in the job.  So, strive for an understanding of the Economy, Environment, and Ego of the job or career under consideration, then assess the Energy you might have for that job. 

Paved Path

In closing, the Four “E”s should be used in any career or job transition along with other resources including books with expert career transition advice.  The utility of the Four “E”s can help you conduct a much more focused job search, make better decisions on offers, and avoid potential career change pitfalls that could end up costing you precious time, effort, and money.  Most importantly, though, the Four “E”s will help ensure continued happiness and fulfillment in your next job or career. 



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