Stay or leave?

When you’re miserable at work, that’s a no-brainer. It’s probably time to leave. But sometimes, you really do like your job but it still might be time to go. Maybe the organization isn’t progressing or maybe you’re just stagnant in your role. There’s a myriad of reasons why it might be the right time to make a move.

While the decision might be a tough one, the pertinent question to ask yourself is relatively simple.

What’s on your career bucket list and how likely are you to accomplish those things if you stay with your current company?

We create life bucket lists. Have a career bucket list, too. A career bucket list is effectively a list of things to achieve before you retire. So plan accordingly!


Here’s the bottom line — If you stay with your current company, will you be able to check off the items on your career bucket list in an appropriate time frame?

We live in a time where we want instant gratification and it’s not always realistic to have that in your career. Even the most ambitious people sometimes get wrapped up on their quest to get to the top or to earn a certain job title rather than seeing their progress as a journey. But career growth takes time. It’s an investment. The key is to know just how long you can wait it out.

To help you further with that decision, there are a few things to consider before making a move. Ask yourself these questions and answer them with extreme honesty and critical self-reflection.

“Do I get paid appropriately for what I contribute?”

There’s much more that goes into career decisions than just your pay. Salary should never be the only consideration but you should be compensated fairly and in line with your colleagues in the industry.

Be brutally honest with your assessment to this question. How hard do you work and what’s your contribution to the organization? Is the company paying new employees more than you are getting paid? If you’re working your butt off and no one is noticing or you’re being overlooked, that’s a problem. You get paid for your contribution and expertise. Are you being paid fairly?

“Is the company still the right company for me?”

Does the company have forward momentum? Is it financially secure? You have to know the status of the company or you can’t make a valid assessment. Is it turning itself around and setting itself up for future success?

And don’t overlook loyalty. How loyal is the company to employees? If you are loyal to the organization, you should expect some reciprocity from the company.

“Am I in the right position?”

If you still have some hefty career goals, you should be challenged and have opportunities for advancement. Excitement and passion should be the norm. How stagnant is your position and do you see room for growth? And this one is important — when will this advancement take place? What’s your ‘drop dead’ date? How long are you willing to wait before it becomes detrimental to your career development?

Remember, you own our career. It’s always great when you have a manager or a mentor helping to guide you with your development but that doesn’t always happen. The greater responsibility falls to you. If you’re not gaining valuable professional experience and developing along the way, then it might be the time to look for a new environment so that you can continue your growth and development.

“Does my company have the right leadership at the helm?”

Do leaders have an inspiring vision and do they have the mental fortitude to make that vision a reality? It’s not always going to be smooth sailing so can the leaders navigate the choppy waters? Do you feel that you can contribute directly or indirectly to this vision and do your leaders trust and encourage your contributions? You have to share the same vision of success or you’re probably not going to be able to support your leadership. That’s not a win-win for anyone.

“Can I be as good as I need to be here?”

Is the environment conducive to your success? Are you able to leverage your knowledge, skills, and expertise? Is there something or someone that holds you back? If so, how and when will that change? Your contribution should match your ambition.

“Is the grass really greener on the other side?”


Maybe or maybe not. I guess you’ll never really know unless you go for it. But know the true source of any issues. A solution may exist. Is the work just not aligning with your strengths or maybe it’s a management mismatch? Different issues may offer different courses of action. With a pause and bit of clarity, there may be a viable plan that can improve the conditions. So before you start sending out resumes, realize that you’re probably not going to find a perfect company.

Look at your pros and cons. Know what you are giving up and know what you will gain. But be very clear on your career bucket list. How much time are you willing to spend if you’re not making any forward progress?

So once you’ve come to your decision, don’t procrastinate. Make either a firm commitment to stay and give it your best or fully commit to taking on a new challenge somewhere else. Don’t do anything halfway. Stagnancy and complacency gets you nowhere.

Whatever you decide, best of luck to you. Just be clear in your commitment to your decision.

Let us know what you think!