Debunking the Perfect Job Fallacy

“Nothing is perfect”, a very well-known saying, yet often forgotten. Even more so when it involves events filled with change, as new beginnings are accompanied by feelings of hope and excitement which are easily blinding to reality. New jobs are no exception to the Emotional Cycle of Change. Developed by Kelley and Conner in 1979, the model describes the most frequent experiences humans go through when facing change (Duncan, 2022).  Broadly speaking, the model describes five stages of emotions: uninformed optimism, informed pessimism, the “pit of despair”, hopeful realism and informed optimism (Duncan, 2022). 

“The pit of despair” refers to the critical stage in which people face the decision of giving up or becoming self-determined to go through with the change. The notion that any change comes with emotional shifts can be seen as early as in the first month of work, as the image clearly depicts. The initial thrill of a new job sets individuals up to unrealistic expectations, which are inevitably followed by disappointment and distress – I like to refer to this situation as the “Perfect Job Fallacy”. 

These negative emotions then become overwhelming for individuals, who become further disheartened by the situation, this is “the pit of despair” as the aforementioned model describes it. However, determined and patient individuals soon realize that with enough information and guidance the possibility of success increases.

Once again these individuals find motivation, and this time, set realistic goals. With this new mindset, failures don’t seem as terrible and are rather seen as opportunities to improve and learn. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that this is not a linear progression, the emotional curve is filled with ups and downs. The encouraging news is that the more you endure this cycle of change, the easier it gets. This is why adopting a growth mindset for the long run is the best strategy not only when coping with a new job, but to coping with change overall.

Don’t strive for perfection, you will never find it. Instead strive for progress and embrace the ride.


Duncan. (2022, May 26). The emotional cycle of change. Mind Affinity. Retrieved September 8, 2022, from

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