Peechaya Burroughs for TIME
By Laura Garnett
August 2, 2016

Should I stay or should I go? That is a question thousands of people ask themselves every day when it comes to their current jobs.

According to a Gallop survey on U.S. engagement at work, nearly 70% of Americans are either disengaged from work or actively disengaged. What this means is that 7 out of 10 people are more than likely not in the right job.

Yet people stay, and it’s more important than ever to figure out why. In my work as a performance strategist, I’ve found that people are asking themselves the wrong questions.

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When people think about their work, they tend to think only about the surface. They ask themselves: Am I making enough money? Do I have security? Is this a job my friends and family would be proud of? Does the company brand make me look important to others?

The answers to all of these question could be yes and give you the impression that you should be happy with what you have. But these questions actually signal the barriers to true success: fear, caring about what others think and thinking that making money equals success. These types of barriers will keep you from ever feeling truly happy at work.

So what questions should you be asking yourself? Try these three:

1. Am I challenged?

Do you spend 60-80% of your time feeling engaged, challenged and on fire with the thinking, problem solving and work that you are doing? It’s not realistic to be engaged 100% of the time — and it’s also not ideal. The 60-80% is my suggestion based on my experience with my clients and when helping people gauge their balance. Ultimately it’s up to each of us what percentage is ideal for ourselves. Ask yourself, is there opportunity to increase this challenge by continuing to push your comfort zone? If the answer to this question is no, then you are probably bored and not in the right job.

2. Am I fulfilled?

Does the impact of your work motivate you? Are you tapping into an endless reserve of energy and motivation because the result of your work — on others, on your team, or on your clients — provides a deep sense of purpose for you? If the answer to this question is no, then you are not organically motivated. You may be forcing motivation, and this friction is causing disengagement.

3. Am I in a supportive environment that allows me to thrive?

This is an important one. Do the people you work with respect what you bring to the table and encourage your participation? Do you feel completely safe being who you are and are encouraged to do so?

Ask yourself these three questions. The ideal scenario is that you say yes to all three, but that doesn’t always happen.

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In the end, you are the owner of your career. If you are not challenged, fulfilled and supported, you won’t ever reach your true potential.

Here are 3 recommendations for how you can start taking action today to turn those no’s into yeses.

  1. Decide that you are leaving your job that isn’t right for you.
  2. Pro-actively attempt to find and create the work that is right for you that may be in a different department from where you are currently.
  3. Take a first step toward looking elsewhere while in your current job. Network and seek out people in organizations that match your values and put high value on the skills that you possess.

Laura Garnett is a performance strategist and founder of Garnett Consulting. Connect with Laura on GoodLooks, a marketplace for lifestyle experts, for one-on-one counseling or virtual coaching.

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