Tips From The Experts: The Psychology of a Career Move

There are three reasons people decide on a career move:

  1. Their current role is boring them and they need a new challenge.
  2. They’re not getting to use their skills or experience in their current role.
  3. They’ve realised that they don’t enjoy going to work anymore.

The first two reasons are pretty clear cut, but that third one…well, the underlying reason for no longer enjoying going to work anymore can be due to a myriad of causes like corporate culture, relationship with your boss or colleagues, lack of job fulfillment, and the list goes on.

Image input by Gallup

If the underlying cause for unhappiness is due to your present environment, all three of these reasons have the potential of being resolved right where you are, but if it’s more a case of wanting change, well, you know what you need to do…

But still, there are questions that need answering and plans to be made before you can even consider taking any kind of action, and that’s what this article is about.

First find out the real reason

“Don’t impulsively decide to quit and become a carpenter.

Just register for one woodworking course.”

Psychology Today

Whatever you do, don’t allow emotion to get in the way of logic, on three counts:

  1. Avoid leaving your current place of employment before you have a plan
  2. Find out what’s really frustrating you
  3. Don’t allow fear to overrule your desire for change

Tony Robbins, world famous American author, entrepreneur, philanthropist and life coach,  says that there are two driving forces that motivate people to do things:

  1. The desire to avoid pain or
  2. The desire to gain pleasure

So before just up and going, work out what’s niggling you, if its justified, and what you can do about it.

If you suspect you may want to leave because your workplace is the issue, do some root cause analysis, by digging a little, with the 5 Whys Method:

Why do I not want to be here anymore?

Because I feel heavy with the thought of coming to work.

Why do I feel heavy with the thought of coming to work?

Because I don’t want to see my boss.

BINGO. In this example, the reason you’re considering a career move is really because you don’t want to see your boss. If that’s the case for you, then you need to explore if you can do anything about it without needing to leave where you are.

Keep repeating the “why” in this exercise until you hit gold.

But if it’s really time to move on, then don’t allow fear to overrule goals. It’s a sad thing when people stay in the same job or company when they would like to move on, just because they fear the unknown.

If your current workspace is the problem…

Now that you know what’s really driving your need for a career move, it’s best to see if there is something you can do to resolve things so that you can stay at your current place of employment.

Try to explore all avenues:

  • Can you approach your boss to get resolution? Before doing so, would it be wise to speak to a counsellor for some advice about how to broach the topic? How about asking the advice of a trusted mentor (not a family member or co worker, as both are too emotionally attached). A previous boss you respect is often a good person to reach out to.
  • If you have tried talking to your boss without success, can you take the matter higher? If you take it higher, what’s the worst that can happen? Is it worth it to take the chance of creating bigger problems if the issue is brought up? If it does create bigger problems, what action can you take then?
  • What other plan of action can you take in order to get resolution?

And if you’ve exhausted all your options without success, you may need to consider leaving anyway.

Gary Pike, MD of Right International, Specialist Insurance Headhunters, adds: “From personal experience,  when faced with difficult decisions, I find it helpful to do a ‘brain dump’”. Here’s how:

Come up with a pros and cons column of leaving for another company or opportunity vs. staying where you are, and leave it for a day.

Come back to it 24 hours later and see if you want to add any additional points.

Take your time by all means, but don’t just leave things for yet another year of dissatisfaction…

If it’s time for greener pastures…

It may be time for greener pastures, but there are still questions needed to be asked. Perhaps you realise you want a complete change in direction – then before leaving your current position, you will need to know in which direction you want to go, so:

What will make you happy?

Question number one is, “What do you enjoy doing?

Gary Pike suggests that you be honest with yourself. Too many people are living someone else’s wishes or desires. So be careful about the choices you make, and seriously consider whether they are what you have always wanted to do or whether you may be living a life set out for you by someone else.”

Further, what type of role and company would play to your strengths and allow you to fully utilise your skills but also challenge you to your maximum potential?

Can you achieve that within your current organisation, or would you need to change companies? If you can stay where you’re at right now, do you need to go on some training?

What do you need to go from here to there?

Either way, face your fears

Do you feel restless, but have a need to stay where you are? You may be experiencing fear – fear of the unknown, fear of failure, sometimes even fear of success…

If this rings true for you, MGC Coaching, conscious career design experts, suggest you ask yourself these questions:

  • What are you afraid of?
  • Is this fear real or imagined? How do you know?
  • What is the downside to not taking action? (What will it be like if things never change?)
  • What is the upside to taking action? (How will it impact your life positively if things change and you get what you want?)
  • Why is it important to you to have what you want?
  • What small step could you take towards your goal that feels safe?


There is nothing wrong with staying with one company for the majority of your career, but it is a problem when you encounter major frustrations and not take some action to improve things for yourself.

At the end of the day, if you do nothing, you can’t justify complaining, because quite frankly, if you’re not prepared to do anything about your situation, then the only person you can blame is yourself.

Finally, if you decide to look for a new career opportunity, contact a well respected recruiter like Right International to help you find what you’re looking for.



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