Q: “For the last eight years, I’ve been working in a job I don’t enjoy. Every time I think about changing positions, I stop short. My colleagues are like family, and the thought of leaving them is very painful. Recently I’ve been approached for a position in another company doing work that sounds much more satisfying. Should I stay with the folks I love or seriously consider the more fulfilling position?”
A: Wonderful colleagues can lead to choosing a life of “comfortable misery.” It’s often easier to stay with them in an unfulfilling job than take the risk of finding a better one. The question is: are nurturing colleagues a sufficiently good reason to stay in a position you hate? Or do you want more from your career?
To find your answer, you’ll need to do some objective analysis. Using a simple spreadsheet is a good way to examine both your head and heart. Down the left side of the page, make a list of the career factors most important to you. Some you might include are:
|Ideal job||Current job|
|The option to learn and grow||10||5|
|Using my best skills||10||5|
|Enjoying my work||10||3|
|The corporate culture||7||7|
|Chance to innovate||8||5|
Across the top of the page, make two column headings: one for your ideal job and one for your current position. Then on a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the highest score), rank the importance of each factor for both your ideal and current jobs. For instance, great colleagues is probably a 10 for both your current and ideal jobs, while the chance to innovate may be an 8 ideally, but only a 5 in real life. Once you’ve scored all the factors, total each column. Then, divide the total for your current position by the total for your ideal one. This will give you an overall satisfaction index in percent form. If your current job provides only 50 to 75 percent of your ideal one, is that enough? To be truly happy typically requires at least an 80 to 90 percent correlation.
Now, take a look at the individual career factors. In your ideal job, how do great colleagues rank versus enjoying your job and using your best skills? If your people environment is much more important than loving your work, stay put. If a satisfying position outweighs camaraderie, check out the other position.
While there is no absolute answer to your question, there are some important tenets to consider as you grapple with your decision. Life is not a dress rehearsal. We cannot change the past or control the future. Today holds the greatest opportunity to fulfill your career’s mission. As you contemplate your contribution to your family, company and society, can you say with confidence it’s your best?
Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979, which works with individual and corporate clients in career change; job search; executive, small business and life coaching; college major selection and talent management.
“One of the smartest minds in the career field,” according to Tony Lee (VP of CareerCast Operations at Adicio and former publisher of the Wall Street Journal’s Online Vertical Network), Besson began writing for the Dallas Times Herald in the early 80s. Having read several of her columns, Lee asked her to contribute regular articles to the Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly (NBEW) as well. Since then, she has been a triple award-winning columnist for CareerJournal.com and Senior Columnist for CareerCast.com, as well as WorkingWoman.com and Oxygen.com. At Lee’s request, Besson authored five editions of NBEW’s Premier Guide to Resumes and three of its Premier Guide to Cover Letters. She has also written articles and/or been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money and Yahoo among others.
Taunee has worked on community nonprofit boards and committees for over 30 years including Girls Inc., Women’s Center of Dallas, Girl Scouts and Dallas Women’s Foundation, The Volunteers of America and Mortarboard, among others. She was a member of the Leadership Dallas in 1987 and Leadership America in 2003.
In 1994, the Dallas Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development chose her as its “Professional of the Year”. Her NBEW columns were selected for the “Ten Best Article Award” in 1990, 1994 and 1997. In 1999, Alpha Gamma Delta, a 200,000 member fraternal organization, named her as one of three “Distinguished Citizens” at its biannual international convention.