I’ve been given the advice before that 5 years is a good length to stay at a job. I know of people who switch every 5 years to keep themselves fresh, and constantly learning. Many, who are Christians feel this a good opportunity to take some risks and step out in faith as well.

Some people master a job in a few years and get bored. Or the routine just kills them. I wonder how many of us stay in jobs we don’t love or are passionate about…just because we fear change, failure, etc.

I made a commitment to myself when I took the college director job at Bel Air I would stay at least 5 years. I stayed 6. And I think it was a good opportunity for both sides (Bel Air and I) to branch out, try new things and continuing learning.

Charlene Li of Forrester says the best career advice is:

I’d love to say that a wise mentor told me to do XYZ and that it changed my entire career. It was much more blasé.

At a career management course for HBS alumni, I learned that a person typically gets sick of a job after 18 months. This is a natural cycle, as you go through the excitement of learning a new job, become expert at it, and then gradually, it gets routine. So the advice I got was to plan for job obsolescence every 18 months. This didn’t mean that I had to leave the company and go to a new place – it had more to do with redefining my current job first to incorporate new challenges.

The impact has been tremendous – I’ve stayed at my current job at Forrester for almost seven years because every 18 months I’ve essentially gotten a “new job”. I actively think about what I need from the job and fortunately, the management at Forrester have been extremely flexible and helpful in helping me find those challenges. They have included:

– Moving into management

– Moving out of management

– Moving to California to manage the San Francisco office

– Shifts in research coverage areas

– Starting a blog

– Championing new research themes at Forrester

– Initiating new products and services for clients

So my advice is to think “outside of the box” but within the job. It’s much easier to design your dream job within the confines of a company that likes and trusts you.

18 months! That’s about the average length of a youth pastor in the United States.

What is your best career advice?