Should you leave your comfortable job?

I was delighted to receive an email this week from someone who's wondering whether to leave his comfortable job for one more thrilling and fulfilling. He already read the article about this opportunity for change I wrote back in 2007, and here are 3 more tips to help you decide:

Not many people change just for the fun of it, especially if there's no apparent or urgent need. You've probably heard one or more of these arguments to count yourself lucky and stay where you are:

  • you have a job
  • you're earning money
  • it took you a while to get where you are now
  • you HAVE a JOB!

There's no urgency to find a job when you already have one. There's no need to change jobs if the one you have pays well and serves your current purposes. Why would you throw out all the effort you put in to train for what you're doing now? And let's not forget there's a lot of fear and uncertainty about quitting "in these unstable economic times".

So what are you supposed to tell that little voice that nags louder every day, "is this really it?"

It might get worse before it gets better

All those years ago, I left my cushy job for another one. The commute was nicer, the pay was better, the work was more interesting - easy decision to make. Except the boss and I didn't get along and I was back on the streets within 6 months.

There are no guarantees. Even if the new opportunity looks lovely, feels fantastic, smells divine, and sounds superb, you may still hate it. Or it may hate you.

You can prepare for this eventuality in a variety of ways. Research the company thoroughly, insist on speaking with supervisors, peers, and customers alike, or spend some time as an "intern" to shadow what a week on the team would look like before you make a commitment.

Get support

After I was let go, I took four whole weeks off to participate in a coaching program. That was the first time I ever seriously took the time to stop and think - what is it that I actually want to do with my life? What am I good at? And what is it that I actually enjoy doing? Believe me - sometimes those two things are NOT the same! Having a coach to ask the uncomfortable questions and confront me with my limiting self-talk was priceless.

You can start by reading books on career management like What Color Is Your Parachute (affiliate link), interviewing people who have the job you think you'd like to have to see if it's all it's cracked up to be, or hiring a coach. Shameless plug for your consideration: I use Type knowledge in my coaching, which means it's all tailored to my client's personality style. :-)

Remember you have options

I'm a big fan of only leaving a job when I know the next thing is lined up, but sometimes it's hard to get there. If you're scared about the economy, scared you won't find another thing half as decent as what you have now, scared you'll lose money, scared the colleagues will hate you - then wait. A scared brain doesn't think straight. A scared brain is in survival mode, not open to properly evaluating all the available alternatives out there.

Big decisions like jobs are worth sleeping over and researching properly, and no employer is going to expect you sign the dotted line right after your interview. Take the time you need to come to the decision from a place of certainty.

So - should you leave your comfy job?

You'll know it's time when the only thing worse than leaving would be to stay.


Image by Nate Shivar, flickr, Creative Commons license