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  • Writer's pictureIvana Musich

How do you know when it’s time for a new job?

How do you know when it’s really time for a change? It often starts with that uneasy feeling and the urge to do something else. To be anywhere else but your current job.

When we’re feeling unhappy, we’re often quick to blame the thing we spend the most time doing — like our careers — as the reason. But it’s important to look at your job objectively. When you’re evaluating whether or not it’s the true source of your discontent, it’s essential to identify and acknowledge the positive aspects that have kept you there this long. Then you can consciously choose your next step, focused on what has worked for you rather than what hasn’t.

There is a very simple exercise I did myself when I was considering leaving my full-time job. It consists of three parts:

Part One — What does it cost you to do your job?

Ask yourself this question four or five times. First, think about the monetary costs you incur to get to your job and do your job sufficiently, such as transportation, parking, wardrobe, phone bill, etc. Then look at the non-tangible things it’s costing you, like time, energy, peace of mind, health, and your untapped potential. You may come to realize that the tangible and intangible cost of staying in your current role is simply not worth the paycheck.

Part Two — What benefits do you get out of your job?

Ask yourself this question four or five times as well. List your salary, benefits, vacation, training and courses, laptop, phone, gym membership — everything your job provides you, both in terms of resources and opportunities.

Don’t forget to include the intangibles like social connections with your coworkers, mentorship, social status, the ability to help people, etc. Focus on the aspects of your job that align with what you value (for example, some people might see work travel as a negative, whereas others view it as an incredible opportunity).

Part Three: Evaluate

Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Then, list the costs of your job on the left, and the benefits on the right. Now that you see them side by side, does your current situation represent a fair exchange? Pay attention to the instinctual feeling you get when you first digest the information in front of you before you’ve had a chance to rationalize or convince yourself of one belief or another. Your gut reaction is your most honest — trust it.

This three-part exercise is part of my career e-workbook that guides you through the process of self-discovery. It’s just one of the tools that can help you get more clarity on what type of work you’d find fulfilling. Once you decide that it’s time for a change, your next step is to figure out what that change should look like. You have the power to design your career, but you can’t get there until you are able to pinpoint what worked in the past, and what didn’t.

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