Time for a New Job?

If you no longer enjoy going to work, but aren’t sure it’s time to take the plunge, try this simple exercise.

If advancing in your career, achieving greater work satisfaction or earning more money were among your New Year’s resolutions, but you keep putting off looking for a new job, you may need to do some soul searching. Moving on isn’t easy and no job is perfect. So, how do you know it’s really time to go?

Much like a personal relationship, employment relationships take energy, compromise and dedication to the task of staying together. When one of those elements is missing, considering other options may be the best decision for everyone involved, So, what keeps us at a job that no longer fits; that no longer brings us a sense of accomplishment or joy; or that no longer makes us proud when we tell people about what we do for a living or where we work?

Often, the answer is quite simple. Fear!

Fear can take many forms. Have you ever gone on a tirade about how rotten your job or boss or working conditions are and had someone ask why you don’t just leave? Fear is what makes you respond by saying things like: “I’m only a few years away from my pension.” Or “I need the benefits.” Or “I’d miss my colleagues.”

If you no longer enjoy going to work, but aren’t sure it’s time to take the plunge, try this simple exercise. Take a blank page and create two columns. In the left hand column, list all the reasons keeping you at your current job. Is it the money? The benefits? The rush you get with a sale? Your at-work friends? List as many points as you can.

Now in the column on the right, put a checkmark beside each reason that kept you at previous jobs. Everything else will be unique to your current job, so mark them with an “X.”

Take a second blank page and create two columns. On the column on the left, make a list of what is getting in the way of making every work day a great day. Is it that you feel your contributions are unrecognized? Do you feel underappreciated? Are you having trouble keeping pace with your work hours? Do you feel you are treated unfairly by colleagues and/or your boss? These may be the reasons for wanting to leave your job.

Now in the column on the right, put a check mark beside any of the reasons why you have wanted to leave any job in the past. If a reason for wanting to leave is unique to this job, this supervisor or this employer, mark it with an “X.”

Where did you land? What dominates your list? Checkmarks or “Xs”? If your lists include multiple checkmarks, this may indicate there is a pattern forming. You might notice that your experience in this position is actually similar to experiences that you’ve had in past positions. If this is the case, it’s possible that your employer isn’t the issue.

This short exercise can help you identify what is at the heart of your discontent at work. It can help you distinguish whether what you are experiencing is about you or your current employment situation. This is important because your attitude to life and work will set the bar for your successes. If you’ve reviewed your lists and you’ve found that the reasons for staying in your job are too important to overcome the fear of leaving, then consider this: making a decision to do well at work can mean the difference between continuing to dislike your job or staying focused on how you can make the most of it and any opportunities it may offer.