Should I Stay or Should I Go?

by | Blog, Leadership Development

4 min read

Are you trapped in a job you hate, but can’t let it go because you are afraid it is the best you can find?

Perhaps you fantasize about quitting your job and starting your own business but can’t make the leap.

Or you have been a stay-at-home mom and now want to go back to work, but so much has changed.

Stepping out to make a career change is scary and so often we think about it, but don’t take action. Or perhaps you are stepping out but not making progress. Many times, you are doing the WRONG things to get what you want. The vast majority of professionals today can’t identify what they really want to create and achieve in their lives. They’re in the dark about themselves and their deepest longings. But there are some people who DO know what they want, and can articulate it clearly, with passion. Unfortunately, among those who are clear, many aren’t taking the right steps to get there.


In deciding to make career change, you must first identify the “essence” of what you want. Questions you need to answer are:

  • What skills and talents do I want to utilize?
  • What business outcomes do I want to support?
  • What type of people, environments and cultures do I thrive best with/in?
  • Which values, standards of integrity and needs must be supported through this work?
  • What types of challenges do I want to face in my work?
  • What financial compensation and benefits are non-negotiable for me?

Once you’ve defined the “essence” of what you want, then it is time to discover the type of work that fits you, your lifestyle and your needs. This is where folks trip up the most. Because you want independence, for instance, you might assume that running your own business is right for you. For thousands, it isn’t (read The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It, by Michael Gerber). That may be a good starting point for your exploration process but figure out exactly what living that career will demand, and make sure it’s what you want.

Not Digging Deep Enough

Let’s say you’ve been in TV production for 10 years and you are hankering to move into teaching English. I’d ask you to explore deeply all the reasons behind your wish to teach. These may include wanting to bring your language skills forward, helping young adults become more successful, mentoring people to communicate more effectively, leaving toxic corporate politics behind, etc. Is a switch to teaching English truly going to bring you satisfaction, or can you fulfill these longings in a way that suits your needs without changing careers? Are you sure you’ll be happy with all the other professional dimensions involved with being a teacher? Make sure you’re not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Do as much research and exploration and dig as deeply as you can to determine what you want, and what you really want from this career change. Perhaps you don’t want a different career at all, but long to bring forward new aspects of yourself, your talents and skills. The question is: What professional identity will make you the happiest?

Giving Up Too Quickly

Finally, failed career changes often involve throwing in the towel too quickly. You can’t make life or career change without significant effort, time, commitment, and usually some substantial money. I’m stunned when people expect major change to happen overnight – or within a few months. They’re so eager (or desperate) to leave behind what’s made them miserable, that they simply can’t tough it out long enough to get to the destination they want.

If recent studies are right, more than 80% of workers today want out of their jobs. It’s a phenomenon of epidemic proportion. If you want career change, get on a path to exploring it, but remember it is a process and the grass is not always greener on the other side. Perhaps there is a way to make changes within your organization. You owe it to yourself to find out.

In the end, address your life and career change with eyes wide open, and with the seriousness, rigor and commitment it – and you — deserve.

For more information about the “JumpStart Your Career Group”, contact Sandy Demarest at

About Sojourn

Sojourn Partners is a results-driven executive leadership coaching firm that empowers the professional workforce to think differently in order to realize the full return on investment in themselves and their companies. Professional leadership thinking and intervention, based on years of research and experience, place Sojourn Partners at the forefront in executive leadership coaching, organizational development, strategic planning and culture and climate change.


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