Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Every day, you make the decision as to whether to continue working at the same job, or look for something new. Most days, you don’t even think about it, you just get up and go to work. If you have a really bad day, you may think about seeing what else is out there. But in order to be a good steward of your own professional destiny, you need to stop every once in a while and really consider where you are in your career, and if that is where you want to be. Below are a few questions to help determine if you are on the right path, or if it’s time to start looking for a change.

Have To or Get To

When you wake up in the morning, are you excited about going to work, or do you dread it? Do you find yourself pondering work problems when not at work, and not mind? Do you read books and articles related to work in your spare time? If you truly enjoy what you do, you will look forward to it, and not be bothered when thoughts of work occacionally creep into other parts of your life.

Family and Friends

Does your family think what you do is really cool? Are they proud of you, and anxious to tell others about what you do? Or do they think your job is an endless list of boring chores, and wonder why you do it? Where do they get that opinion, if not from things you have said to them? Your attitude towards your work is reflected in the people who are closest to you.

Meeting Expectations

Even the best-laid plans don’t always work out. You may have tried something different on a lark, or been forced by into a sub-optimal position by circumstances. After you’ve been there for awhile, you need to take a step back and decide if it was as bad as you thought it was going to be, or if it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Are you where you thought this position would take you? Sometimes, taking a chance puts you in a place you never thought you’d be, but it ends up being a perfect fit.


When you look back over your career history, what are the things of which you are most proud? What do you consider your most significant accomplishments? Can you see more exciting accomplishments on your current path? Are you working towards something you will be proud of? If not, it might be time to move on, into a career path with a future you can be exited about.

You should get into the habit of pausing to evaluate your career situation on a regular basis – once a year, or even once every six months. If you find yourself saying “This is okay, for now” too many times in a row, it might not be “now” anymore.

Get involved in the discussion

The ACS Career Tips column is published the first week of every month in C&EN. Post your comments, follow the discussion, and suggest topics for future columns in the Career Development section of the ACS Network (—brought to you by ACS Careers.



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