How do I decide between a current job and a new job? There are positive and negative things about both. So I’m stuck. Help!
At some point in your career, you’ve been there.
Or maybe you’re the person who sent me this question, and you are there.
If so, you’re not alone. According to Gallup’s recent State of the American Workplace Report, 51% of US workers are either actively searching for new jobs or watching for openings.
Plus, from my conversations with my coaching clients in the UK, Australia, and Canada, this number seems to be reasonably on track there as well.
So, how do you decide between a current job and a new job?
Here are the three questions you need to answer first. Get ready–they may surprise you.
Once you know these answers, you’ll know what to do.
Question 1: Am I honestly clear about who I am and what I want in my life at work?
One of the biggest mistakes we make when we’re trying to decide between a current job and a new job is that we’re focusing our attention “out there.”
We’re looking hard at the other company.
We’re exploring its people and processes.
We’re learning about its pay, benefits, and other perks.
But the truth is that you can never decide what’s next for you if your focus is all “out there.”
You need to shift your focus to “in here.” It’s what’s inside you that matters most.
Can you clearly articulate what you DO want in your next opportunity, and how it moves you forward in the direction you want for your life?
Do you know what’s right for you, based on who YOU are today, and what you really want–not what you think you should want?
This knowledge is the secret sauce.
If you’ve been feeling stuck or going around in circles, I can tell you with 100% certainty is that it’s because you still need to do the homework to get clear on who you are & what you want today, and into the future.
Once you have this data, it’s a magic decision-helper.
(Hey–it doesn’t have to be hard to gain this info. In my online course, Create Career Clarity, I walk you through the key elements to career clarity in five lessons, each under 15 minutes long. When you’re finished, you’ll have a significantly sharper picture about who you are and what you want, which will help you choose between a current job and a new one every single time. Get started here.)
Stop focusing on what’s out there, and start getting clear on what’s in you. Knowing yourself is the foundation for all of your career decision-making, today and tomorrow.
Question 2: Have I completely explored and exhausted what’s available right where I am?
If we’re not happy at work, we’ve been taught that there are only two acceptable paths.
PATH A: I should look for a new job.
PATH B: I should stay put and be grateful I have a job.
But here’s a surprise.
There’s actually another, often simpler and more rewarding path that you can take after you answer Question 1 above and know who you are and what you want.
PATH C: I should explore how I can get more of what I want right where I am.
With apologies to Frost, this is truly the road not taken.
Which is a shame. In my work with my private clients and students in my online programs, I am constantly finding that they’re assuming nothing can change with their current job or employer.
And that seems a little silly, given that we all know that change is happening every day in our organizations. Why couldn’t it happen for YOU?
But it won’t happen by magic.
You need to do three things.
- Be clear on what you want (see question #1).
- Start talking to people to discover the pain in the organization. The places where there is pain are where what you want might exist or be created. (Yes, this is networking. Get over yourself and start doing it. My free guide helps: How to Network While You Work.)
- Offer a solution.
Note that those three actions DO NOT involve waiting for your manager to hand you a promotion, or for an opportunity to suddenly pop up on your company’s career website. If you assume those are the only paths to changing something right where you are, you’ll end up missing out on creating something that may be perfect both for you and the organization today.
If you need to decide between a current job and a new job, make sure that you’ve done the work to find out all that may be possible in your own backyard.
It’s okay to pass up a new job that doesn’t seem quite right in order to explore what you might change right where you are.
For more details and scripts to put this into action in your company, read How to Find a New Job in a Surprising Place: Your Company.
Question 3: If there were no consequences, which would I choose?
If you’re clear about who you are and what you want, and you’ve completely explored what might be possible right where you are, and you’re STILL finding it hard to decide between your current job and a new job, then it’s time to shut up.
Stop talking, and start feeling.
Oh, I know–“feelings” seem squishy, la-la and unprofessional when we’re talking about something as BIG as making a career move.
But the neuroscience is clear.
Our gut is our second brain. And in many cases, it’s more trustworthy than our info-overwhelmed head.
How do you tap into your gut? Get quiet and ask this question:
If there were no consequences, which would I choose?
Then, listen. Don’t judge the answer or talk back to it.
The removal of consequences helps us zero in on what we really want. It also opens up possibilities that those things we assume are consequences may not weigh as much as we think they do.
For example, my client Christy had done the work to know what was most important to her in her life and work. When the new opportunity came up, it looked great on paper (and honestly, looked like an escape from a boss who was slowly killing her spirit.)
Her friends all said, “Of course you should take the new job!”
But the job doubled her commute at a time when she was committed to her focus on her family, health, and creating community in her town.
She was torn, until she asked herself, “What if there were no consequences?”
That thought led to “What if no one cared or judged me based on this decision?”
She quickly came to the conclusion that the loss of her time and freedom was worse than continuing to manage her current situation.
She also realized that the new job won’t be the last job she’ll ever find. She trusted herself that it was better for now to stay and keep exploring than change just because her friends thought it made sense.
Our doubts are often wrapped up with other’s thoughts and expectations. Asking “what if there were no consequences” can open up the truth about what you think, feel, and most importantly, what you should do next.