Career progression: Should I move companies before I get too comfortable?

Career progression can be a tricky task to handle. How can we know when we’ve spent too long in one role, and should we always move on from a company if we feel ‘too comfortable’?


Times are changing. The reasons behind why we work the way that we do have changed greatly in recent years. Work-life balance and an overarching sense of well-being now play a greater role in how we choose our jobs and who we work for but, at the end of the day, many of us still have one priority: our wages. Money might not buy happiness, but it eases our lives in so many ways.

Earning more allows us access to the support of counsellors and coaches, and types of self-care for our well-being that aren’t free. Not to mention the peace of mind that comes when you are no longer living paycheck to paycheck. No amount of ‘positive company culture’ can outweigh the sense of relief that comes from knowing you have enough money to cover not only the essentials but any unexpected emergencies (and even the odd little luxury), too. 

According to the Living Wage Commission, wages have stagnated over the past 30 years. While the average earnings for full-time employees have risen, the disparities between the highest and lowest earners have continued to rise. Although what we earn in real terms has increased since 2010, so too has the cost of living. Between 2010-18, we’ve seen a cumulative price increase of over 25%. With the average rate of inflation sitting around 2.85%, not all employers offer a yearly wage increase that keeps up with the cost of living.

It’s no wonder more and more of us are starting to question not only our career paths but how active we are in shaping the direction and speed in which we are progressing.

We spoke with Transformative Wellbeing Coach, Ali Scott, to find out more about career progression, guilt, and if we can be too comfortable in our roles. We asked: should we always be pushing ourselves to keep furthering our careers?

Should we always be pushing ourselves to keep furthering our careers?

“With this, it’s less about what you do in your career that matters, and more about where you’re coming from when you do it,” Ali explains. “Many of us are caught up in a ‘productivity = value’ mentality, believing subconsciously (or even consciously) that we are only good enough, worthy, or valuable when we are being more productive and doing more.

“This belief would have started in childhood and can dictate much of the rest of our lives if left unchecked. When you have this belief, you can feel like you need to push yourself harder, and that being comfortable is wrong, lazy, and definitely not good enough.”

With so many of us linking our personal worth and value with our productivity levels and how measurable our achievements are within our careers, is there a way to break away from this mindset?

“Ask yourself: What do you really want?” Ali advises. “Beyond all the ‘shoulds’ that will vie for your attention. Beyond the ideas of what’s right and wrong. What does your soul really want? If that’s career progression, go for it. Have fun expressing that passion out into the world.

“If that’s to ensure you have a balance that feels right for you at home, with less focus on work for now? Go for that. But don’t be tricked by the ‘rules’ that you were born into. Work out what will make your body, mind and soul feel the most genuine peace, and go for it.” 

Identifying the career moves that are right for you

Considering a career move, not sure if you’re just having a bad couple of days or is it really time to move on? We’ve put together a list of simple questions you can ask yourself to help identify the right career moves for you.

1. What do I want to achieve?

When you take a step back and think about your career, what is it you’re hoping to achieve? Is it a specific role or title, a certain salary range, an impact on your field or colleagues? Figuring out what you want is the first step towards working out how you’ll achieve that, and what you’ll need to do to get started on the path towards where you want to be.

2. Live to work, or work to live?

The answer isn’t always as straightforward as you might think. What kind of work-life balance do you really want? For some people, their career is their main motivator. Working your way up the corporate ladder, striking out and starting your own business, achieving recognition and accolades amongst your peers. For others, work is a tool to obtain the things they want within their personal lives. Funding travel, creating a comfortable home life for your family, allowing investment into other fulfilling areas such as education, enrichment, or well-being. 

There’s no right or wrong answer, but defining what is most important to you can help to put potential career moves into perspective. After all, that extra 1% bump in pay may not mean as much to you as the freedom to work remotely or reduce your overall hours. 

3. Why now?

What is it that’s making you question your role right now? Is there something specific that is making you feel worried, anxious, or unhappy at work? Is there a certain pressure at home that is pushing you towards making changes? Perhaps you’ve seen a friend or colleague’s success, and are feeling particularly motivated or even jealous, and want to see how far you can push yourself?

Try to identify the main reasons why you’re questioning your position. If it’s something small, you may be able to fix things without making big changes. If it’s a bigger underlying issue, it could be a sign that change is the way forward. 

Working with a career coach

A career coach can help you to better understand not only what you want, but what skills you will need and how you can develop them to help you find a more fulfilling working life. While a career coach won’t tell you what to do, they can help you to work through the decision-making process, figuring out how you are feeling, setting goals, and providing the time and space to figure out what you really want.

Each coach can tailor their help to best suit your needs, no matter what stage you are at in your career. Together, you can identify the different options available to you, and get started on the path towards the career goals that are right for you.

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Written by Bonnie Evie Gifford
Bonnie Evie Gifford is a Senior Writer at Happiful.
Written by Bonnie Evie Gifford
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