Your time might not actually be up yet.
The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question, “What are some signs that you should be looking for a new job?” is written by William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.
Maybe you’re starting to feel like it’s time to consider making a change and pursuing opportunities elsewhere. You’re probably not alone.
In a shaky, uncertain economy, it may also be a good time to remember that the grass often seems greener on the other side. So how do you know when it’s time to go?
Ask yourself the following three questions:
What is causing you to question your current job?
Take some time to sit and think about the true impetus behind this desire to find a new place to work. Is it that you’ve simply hit a ceiling in your professional development at your current job? Perhaps it’s a difficult working relationship, a mismatch in your motivation and the purpose of your company, or an ill fit between what the job requires and what your family needs.
Whatever the reason, you need to identify it before you do anything else. You may discover that the issues driving you to think about a change can be resolved and allow you to stay where you are. If they can’t be resolved, identifying those issues will help you figure out where you might want to go next.
See also: 5 Signs You’re About to Get Fired
Why do you want to stay?
While it’s easy to get caught up in the more challenging aspects of your current job, there are reasons that you are still in that role. Some of them are practical: You need a job to provide for yourself and your family, or you don’t want to uproot your kids in the middle of a school year. But if you look closely, you will see there might be other reasons.
Perhaps your work is bearing fruit, even in the midst of frustrations. Or perhaps the role is helping you grow personally and professionally by stretching you beyond your natural gifting. If you have hit a ceiling where you are, you might be learning to be more patient and content as you demonstrate loyalty to your employer. Loyalty is a rare quality employers are looking for (I know I’ll hire loyalty over competence most every time).
Maybe the reason you are staying is that the “cause” behind the company matches your personal values. When you work at a place where the “why” behind the company’s “what” matches yours, you’re in a rare spot. It may be worth sticking around longer than what your feelings are telling you.
Why would you want to leave?
Too many times, I see people leave a job for the right reasons, but leave for the wrong job. Career progression isn’t just about leaving a place. It’s both leaving something and going toward something better.
It’s easy to daydream about leaving your current job, but have you thought about what you want your next step to be? Where do you want to go from here? Have you considered whether that goal is realistic? Are you simply idealizing whatever is next?
Remember: No job is perfect because you will always be working with people (and they will also have to work with you), and people are imperfect. You could potentially face the exact same dynamics that are causing you to question your current role in the next one if you don’t have realistic expectations.
When thinking about what you would move “to,” don’t let yourself worry too much about what your ultimate job is. Don’t worry too much about whether a move is “up” or “lateral.” Instead, ask yourself, “Is this next position a job that I would only be able to do because of the experience I’ve gained over my career? Is it a job that has a ‘why’ that drives me?”
Success is not about getting the next job, or even resolving any issues in your current one; rather, success is clarity, and asking yourself these questions can help you achieve that.