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Time for a New Job—or a New Attitude?

There's nothing wrong with being dissatisfied and taking action to change your situation, and don't let people tell you that you're selfish or too choosy

Dear Liz,

I have been at my job for two-and-a-half years, and the past six months have been very hard to get through. There's nothing awful about the job, but it's not what I want to be doing. At least I'm glad that I am getting the chance to learn what kinds of environments work best for me.

Here is my problem: I've just begun a job search and I'm generally keeping it quiet, but I've told several friends about it. Instead of the supportive words I'd hoped for, I'm getting flack for being "too choosy" about my job requirements. Their logic is, "a job is a job. Be glad you've got a job, don't be selfish, and don't bother to aim for more because there's more to life than your job." I'm baffled. I thought your career was supposed to enrich you in more ways than just financially. I don't know how to respond to them.



Dear Shannon,

This is a workplace-advice and not a friendship-advice column, but I think friends are people who listen to you and support you when you need help. I'm disappointed in your friends, as I'm sure you are, for not understanding that different people need different things from a job. Some can work happily at a dead-end job or for a crazy boss for decades and not let it bother us a bit. Others keep searching for the environment that will let them spread our wings intellectually or socially or creatively, or in all ways. There's no one-size-fits-all solution.

You might say to one of these friends, "What if you told me, 'I need help finding a new apartment,' and I said to you, 'Oh, quit complaining, just stay where you are, you've got a roof over your head.' It's the same thing with my job search. It's important to me, and I'd really be grateful if you could try to understand."

I hope that some of the people you spend time with are more in tune with your desire to mesh your job and your interests/aspirations more closely. For many people, this is the central challenge of this decade: How do I, in effect, bring more of myself to my work? You're certainly not alone in your desire to find a workplace that provides more fulfillment. Maybe one of your side goals along the way to finding that perfect job could be cultivating stronger friendships with some other folks who feel the way you do about how a career fits into the rest of your life.

You didn't mention whether the friends you told are pals from work or from outside of work. If they are colleagues, the thought of your departure could make them uncomfortable or sad, or it could raise issues about their own situations that they don't want to deal with right now. What's important, though, is that you've realized that you need something more from your job and are determined to get it. Don't let your friends' lack of support deter you or change your course. And who knows—you could end up inspiring someone else to do the same!

Best of luck to you,


Liz Ryan writes her "Career Insight" column and answers readers' questions every week at She is an expert on the new-millennium workplace and a former Fortune 500 HR executive.

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