Have you ever heard the expression, “Well, you can’t have everything…”

I’ve talked about this before but I hear this expression over and over and it makes me a little sad.  Sure, I know I can’t have everything.  Most mature people know that sometimes compromises have to be made.  It can even be smart to make compromises.  But, when it comes to a job search or career change, we owe it to ourselves to stop and re-evaluate what the best fit is for each of us.

What really makes me want to help, is when I talk to people who are making compromises that don’t serve them.  Or people who are rationalizing choices that could be different if they weren’t afraid, or if they weren’t waaaaay overestimating the risk involved.

Why does this bother me so much?  Well, probably because from my own experience I know that “good enough” really could be just as dangerous a gamble – especially in a career – as that risk you don’t want to take.  See my recent blog on giving your career a health check-up here.

I stayed in a “good enough” job for too long.  “You can’t have everything” became a mantra for the days when yet another compromise I had made hit me square in the face demanding some attention.  Commute to long?  Well, you can’t have everything.  Pay too low?  Yes, but where else would I get the flexibility?  Not growing and challenged?  Look, it’s nice to be very good at your job, who needs the insecurity?  Obnoxious co-workers?  There are difficult people everywhere.

Does this sound familiar?

These are just some of the things I hear from people who are considering a job change.  Many of them will never take that leap.  Why not?  Because it is hard and causes us to revisit who we are, what we want, and what it will take to make a change.

We all want to be in a job that’s a good fit – that combination of activities we are good at and enjoy, with a salary and benefits that meet our needs, and the intangibles that can make the difference between misery and satisfaction.  Things like a boss we get along with, a culture that suits our style, and co-workers with similar interests and values.

Consider yourself, your life

Wouldn’t you agree these are reasonable expectations given that we spend at least 50% of our waking hours at work?  Yet, according to a survey reported in Forbes magazine, 52.3% of Americans report feeling unhappy at work.  The same survey revealed that Americans on average haven’t felt happy about indicators like wages, vacation policy, and retirement since 1987.

Now, your reaction may be “I don’t care, really, I need this job!”  Or you need the health insurance.  Or you need the security.  Or you are scared out of your wits.  I understand, and you are not alone.

You can do better

I just have one question for you:  Have you considered the risk of staying put?  Staying put in a job that’s not a good fit can lead to stress, anxiety, and poor performance.  It can also lead to a reduction in your overall life-time income.  And, it can even affect your health.

All of these things happened to me because I stayed too long, I compromised, I rationalized, and I lied to myself.  No, you can’t have everything.  But in my experience, you can do better.  Who knows – you may even surprise yourself!

For more advice on navigating your career, email me at sarah@avarahcareers.com.