By Marcelle Yeager
This time of year may get you thinking and talking with family and friends about 2015, resolutions and future plans, both related and unrelated to work. That's why this is a good time to really explore how you feel about your job. Perhaps there's one person you don't particularly like. Or maybe your manager isn't giving you the opportunities or salary you think you deserve.
It all depends on your personality and outlook as to what you can (and can't) tolerate in the workplace. There are people who can ignore a colleague that gets on everyone else's nerves. There are people who don't mind doing the grunt work and don't want to be given additional responsibilities. What's important is to figure out what combination of circumstances you can put up with and what you really cannot.
This holiday season, as you talk to friends and family, listen to yourself. What is it you really dislike about work, and what is it you like? Write it down in two columns: "like" and "dislike." If you come across any of the circumstances below in your "like" column, you may not need the change you've been thinking about so soon.
Flexibility. If you're able to take time off of work whenever you need to for doctor appointments or kid duties, that's a benefit not everyone enjoys. If your boss lets you work from home when necessary or on a regular basis, congratulations! Most people would accept a pay cut for that chance.
Autonomy. Do you have a certain amount of independence at work when it comes to managing your time and workload? This can be significant, because micromanagers can really harm initiative, creativity and the incentive to work hard. If you are trusted to do your work and generally left alone to get it done – two thumbs up.
Work. Do you like the actual day-to-day work that you do? Do you feel challenged? Do you feel valued? These can be deal breakers. Even if you don't get along well with all your co-workers, if you like what you do, do it well and feel appreciated by the right people (read: management), then you may be in for some incredible future opportunities.
People. The company culture, which is really determined by the people an organization consists of, can make or break your job experience. If you click and look forward to seeing your officemates each morning, you may have it made, even if you don't love the work you do every day. On the other hand, do you think you'd be happier doing work you love with people you don't? It depends on what satisfies you at work.
Opportunities. It may take some digging and proactivity on your part, but identifying future possibilities within your company or organization can give you a good reason to stick around. Yes, it may take some networking, but it's typically easier to move inside a firm than to leave and find something new. Plus, this route takes much less time than a full-fledged job search. There may be opportunities you don't even know exist, but if you reach out to the right people to show your interest in their department or a similar role, you may find out something new and expand your prospects.
Salary and benefits. Can you pay the bills and afford to pay for leisure expenses, such as a gym membership and fun vacations? Not everyone can do this. While it's not a sole reason to stay put at your company, it's something to consider while factoring in the other "dislikes" and "likes" on your list. Maybe your company will pay for membership in an association or professional training. Again, these are not perks the majority of companies offer.
It is very rare to get all the things you want in a job. There are some perks you have to let go and compromise on, just like in a relationship with a significant other. However, you need to know yourself well to understand what makes you tick.
If you're still having trouble figuring out if your employer is good for you or if you need a change, consider the degrees of what you can handle and what you cannot. You may want to add a one-to-10 scale to your list. "One" would mean intolerable – makes you shake with rage – and "10" would mean completely satisfied. Then you can add up the points you've given to each thing on your list and see if the "likes" or "dislikes" win. The result will depend on how you view, react to and deal with people and situations.
Think it over. Maybe it's not as bad as it seems.
Marcelle Yeager is the president of Career Valet, which delivers personalized career navigation services. Her goal is to enable people to recognize skills and job possibilities they didn't know they had to make a career change or progress in their current career. She worked for more than 10 years as a strategic communications consultant, including four years overseas. Marcelle holds an MBA from the University of Maryland.