Continuous Improvement: Cures The Two-Year Itch

Several years ago I had a long but fun job interview. In that interview I was honest with my prospective employer about my strengths, my passions and my need to be challenged.

I pointed to my historical pattern of two years of achieving in a role, before I got bored and needed to learn something new and needed to make a greater difference. (Which usually meant I moved on…)

The interviewer smiled and nodded and shared that he had the same problem. …Until he came to work in this company…

He had my attention.

I had his attention.

And I got the job.

Nearly two years later – the team I was serving was no longer the least engaged, or lowest performing. They were so highly engaged that customers commented on the difference, the entire company felt their presence, and their results were setting the bar.

And I began to feel that familiar itch…

  • Now what?
  • Where do we go from here as a team?
  • How can I learn and serve more?

At first I looked at the grass on the other side of the fence – just like I’d always done. It looked so green, so interesting, so inviting… And I considered making the leap.

And then one day I stumbled over a rock in our department and discovered a slimy squiggly thing that was hiding in a dark corner under all of our success. (How dare he!)

So the team began to shine the light of our efforts on that squiggly thing.

As we did we felt renewed energy and teamwork and before long that dark corner was fully illuminated and that squiggly thing moved out.

So we turned over another rock. …And then another rock. And then another one…

Sometimes we discovered more squiggly things.

Sometimes we discovered traces of gold and focused our efforts on making the most of a new opportunity.

Each time we turned a rock we were like children on a treasure hunt.

  • We had an exciting adventure.
  • Our knowledge and skills grew.
  • We became a stronger team.
  • And we made a greater and greater difference for our company.

And yes – I stayed 3.5 times longer than my historical pattern.  

In that process I learned:

  1. Focusing on improving who you are and contributing to where you are can eliminate the two-year itch and any temptation to rest on previous successes.
  2. You don’t have to give into the itch, don’t have to rest the moment you experience success, don’t have to experience decline, and don’t have to jump ship.
  3. You can continue to engage others and grow simply by examining shadowy places and shining light into them.

Today it is exactly two years since my dog and I said goodbye to friends in Tulsa, and started a road-trip before joining my husband overseas.

And the itch has been increasing for a few weeks.  So – Yes I’m turning a few rocks!

Please share!  How about you? Do you have a natural rhythm that “itches” after a set amount of time? How do you handle it?




Image Credit – iStock

President, Giana Consulting

Chery Gegelman is an adventurer that loves to learn. ...Deep conversations, books, travel, and daily living are all food for growth.

As a speaker, facilitator and workshop leader she creates energizing environments that reflect God's grace, tear down walls, help people to consider new perspectives, and inspire change.

Chery is the Founder of Giana Consulting and Conversation Safari's, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two leadership books.

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3 thoughts on “Continuous Improvement: Cures The Two-Year Itch

  1. Has it really been two years, Chery? Wow!

    I know exactly what you are talking about when it comes time for the itch. At different points, in different job situations, I always knew when I needed more. Instead of leaving a Bank, I explored different areas to work in. That choice to stay impacted my work even today.

    Your points are excellent about improving who we are. Sometimes that improvement could mean doing volunteer work or stepping up for an assignment that may seem overwhelming. It is when we challenge ourselves to pursue new responsibilities or learn new concepts, that we grow the most and evolve. That has been my experience.

    Thanks Chery, for your great perspective on continuous improvement!