Career Risk… Staying is riskier than leaving

“I hate my job.”  

As a career coach, I hear that phrase as much as anyone.  I also hear: “I’m thinking of doing something else but I’m worried about the risk.”  

This post is not for those who don’t know what else they would do other than their miserable job.  If you are in that situation, you need to do exploratory work and perhaps you should contact me or other career counseling experts.  Regardless… DO SOMETHING!

Back to those of you who are miserable in your job and know what you want to do but won’t leave because of the risk involved. 

I know you are highly focused on the risks associated with leaving.  But, have you considered what you are risking by staying?  

I recently was working with an unhappy insurance executive from Hartford, CT. I considered my career risk checklist for those who are considering a career change.  

She had been unhappy at work for at least 7 years. [not a temporary situation – check]

The people she worked with, including her boss, were going to basically stay the same.  [same people – check]

The work she would do would basically stay the same [same work activity – check].


She was unhappy.  Her career had plateaued.  So, unless she worked really hard, she would likely not advance much more or make more money.  

Her risk of staying in a career she did not like: 

She would be unhappy.  That was nearly certain.  And, it was nearly certain that her unhappiness would only grow.  People get more miserable as they stay in situations they hate.

She would likely get fired/laid off.  If you don’t like what you do, eventually, you won’t be that good at it.  I’ve written about this elsewhere so I won’t elaborate.  

She was highly confident that she would like her new proposed field.  But, she didn’t know “for sure” if it would work out.  The number of things we know “for sure” is surprisingly little, I explained, but the one thing she knew for sure is that she would continue to hate her current work.  Staying seemed to be the bigger risk to me.