Photo via Unsplash by Jac Alexandru

With careers, it’s a bit like marriages - you commit. And you shouldn’t quit just because it’s hard. Maybe even for years. Or should you? When is it time to move up? Move out? Or should you stay and persevere?

If you are vaguely dissatisfied (yet maybe not terribly unhappy) with your job, the answers to such seemingly simple yes-or-no-questions may feel immensely difficult. It is easy to say: It’s time for a pivot when the benefits of leaving outweigh the benefits of staying, however measuring those is complicated. 

So let’s shed some light on this emotionally draining but by far not unsolvable riddle. 

Why are people happy or unhappy in their careers?

Let’s get this out of the way first. In a typical 40h work week we spend roughly a third of our awake time in the office (excluding commuting and of course excluding all things that may feel like work like laundry, grocery shopping, doing your taxes or “thinking about work”). Whether we like it or not, many of us are hugely attached to the self-image we are creating around our work. After all, our career in many contexts is one large synopsis of our day-to-day choices. 

Are you currently feeling lost, stuck or unfulfilled in your career? Ready to take the next step, but you're not sure how? Join the tbd* Purpose Fellowship, starting on October 15th 2021, and upgrade your career to start living your purpose. 

According to a McKinsey Study, 25% of our life satisfaction is driven by our job satisfaction. Our job satisfaction is largely driven by how interesting we find our job and by our interpersonal relationships - mainly relationships with management. 

job satisfaction

Is there a tipping point after which a career change becomes inevitable? 

Just like with relationships, most job changes happen after an incident that drives emotions high enough so that the choice to leave seems like the only sensible one. However, there is enough long-term data suggesting that long-term disengagement is just as harmful to our overall happiness (Gallup & Personal-Wissen.de).

Statistically it also matters when you ponder your career move. Moments where we draw comparisons between us and our peer group; or between us “where we are now” and “where we think we would be at a certain point in life”  are particularly pivotal. These include things like: Work anniversaries, jubilees or maybe private events like a wedding (CEB). 

Having said that, we researched the statistically relevant drivers of career happiness factors, reasons why people quit and obviously stumbled across dozens of self-help gurus sharing their indiscriminate opinions about when you should switch your job. We then condensed all of it back into what seems like an unethically short yet quick, snackable and above all, helpful, self-test. 

Here we go. 

The self-test: to quit or not to quit. That is the question. 

Work satisfaction is something highly individual for everyone. So we believe it to be ethically questionable to make a questionnaire and tell you to “switch your job” once you fall below a certain happiness percentage. So you will have to make your own decision on that. 

STEP 1: On a scale from 0 to 10 how satisfied do you ACTUALLY want to be with your career? (0 = zero happiness, 10 = being ecstatically fulfilled and happy )

Maybe your life is really about your job. But maybe your job matters less to you and merely has the function an income provision as you like to focus on other things – like your hobbies, your travel lifestyle, your book project or your family. 

Pick a number that feels good for you. 

STEP 2: Rate the following job happiness factors on the same scale from 0 to 10!

self test: quit job

STEP 3: Interpret. 

First of all. Take the average and check again whether that is higher or lower than your number from Step 1. 

Then answer these questions: 

What is your biggest insight you are taking away? 

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

What is your homework (incl. your deadline)? 

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

And there you have it. So, is it time to leave your job? If you’re still unsure and want to hash it out with a group of fellow career changers and purpose finders, join our upcoming Purpose Fellowship, starting on the 15th of October! 

= = = = 

Astrid schrader

Astrid Schrader is a leadership, team and career coach. She is a former management consultant turned entrepreneur and founder of The Arc

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