I once visited the estate sale of a couple I’ve known all my life. What I didn’t expect was to find the couple present.

As I talked with them, strangers came in and out to purchase their possessions. The couple was struggling emotionally, clearly placing more value on most items than what people were willing to pay.

Why? Because my friends were invested in those items. They were more valuable to the couple than to the buyers.

Similarly, the longer we are in an organization, the harder it is to leave and seek a new job. We experience Status Quo Bias, which means we prefer to keep things the way they are, even when there are better alternatives available.

If you’ve lost your job, you can experience Status Quo Bias, too. You may want to recreate the “status quo” you had at your old job. It becomes an emotional, and not a rational, process.

I’ve discovered two pretty big components of Status Quo Bias—things that serve as obstacles to positive change.

First, loss.

We focus on what we have today, giving more value to what we would lose if we left. We have a harder time imagining what we might gain.

We should ask, “What value do I really receive if stay—and what do I stay to gain if I leave?” Instead, we think exclusively about what we’ll miss, like our daily commute time, team, the benefits, or the reputation of the organization.

Second, sunk costs.

Studies have shown the more you invest in something, the more value you place on it. If I put a new kitchen in my house and add a new room, I probably think the home is worth more than it really is.

In the same way, we invest a lot in our jobs: Skill, effort, heart, and even precious family time. The more we feel we’ve invested, the more we value our current position. It’s human nature to try to hold onto it.

I’m guilty of this. I stayed for 25 years in my first job. Did I learn and grow in those years? Did I benefit in many ways by staying there? Absolutely. But, looking back, I’ll also admit I valued comfort and familiarity more than I should have.

Making a job change for many is scary. We hate having to “start all over!” How do you get past this challenge if you’re wondering about taking a new job?

Here are two ideas.

1.    Focus on Opportunities

You have some opportunities where you are now. No doubt about it. But there are different opportunities if you choose to find another job.

Neither is better; they are just different.

2.    Evaluate Your Current Job Honestly

These 10 questions are a good start.

  1. Am I learning new things?
  2. Do I like the people I work with?
  3. Does my leader have my best interests at heart?
  4. Do I have opportunities to grow and take on more responsibilities?
  5. Am I developing new skills?
  6. Am I experiencing JOY?
  7. Am I using my gifts?
  8. Am I making a difference in what I do?
  9. Is this my passion?
  10. Am I too comfortable?

Whether you choose to stay or go, remember you aren’t alone. God is with you every step of the way.

“…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

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