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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Working for the Paycheck

Dear Sue: My gut and my heart are telling me it is time to move on and leave my job. I've been a secretary for the same person for 15 years and a manager of the clerical staff for four years. With this managerial position, my salary has increased while my interest in the job has decreased. I am burned out. I not only work for the CEO of the company and two Vice Presidents, but I manage a staff of 12. When my workday is done, I go home to three children under the age of 10. 

I am hesitant to leave because I make great money and get four weeks of vacation a year. I realize this is good, but I feel I am in my "comfort zone". 

It is amazing how may different opinions I get about my making the move. I either hear, "Why would you want to leave all that?", "A job is a job", and "Can't you just go to work, earn your paycheck and leave work at work and go home to your family?", etc. 

I believe I have figured out money isn't everything. I think a person needs to enjoy what they are doing. 

I've discussed the possibility of leaving with my husband, but he is only looking at the dollar signs. He wonders why I would want to go somewhere else, especially because I might find out it could be worse than what I have now. I say that it might be better. 

What are your thoughts on this? I love your column and your advice and hope you can help me. 

- In the comfort zone

Sue Says: There are many different reasons people choose to leave a job. Some people never seem to stay at any job for long, while others are content staying at one place forever. 

Many people remain at a job they have lost all passion for simply because the pay and benefits are good or because the job has become easy to manage. 

It sounds to me as though much of the advice you are being given is coming from people who are looking at the situation logistically and logically. From this point of view, it makes perfect sense for you to stay; you're making good money, you've got great benefits and a predictable job, so why leave it?

You are not just thinking with your head, but feeling with your heart as well. In your head you can rationalize all of the reasons you should stay, but in your heart, you feel it is time for you to move on. The best decision will be one that is made both with your head and your heart.

However, it is important for you to determine the cause of your restlessness. Is it that the job is too stressful or that work in general is taxing because after a long day you go home to three young children? Do you resent the added responsibilities that have been given to you?

The questions you are asking have no right or wrong answer. In general, the time to consider looking elsewhere for work has arrived when you can answer yes to any of the following:

  • You dread going to work each day. 

  • You are thinking and talking negatively about your job and your company

  • You are bored and unchallenged, but have gone as far as you can within the organization

  • You have been denied a promotion more than three times

  • You cannot remember the last raise you received

  • You know you are not working to your potential

If you dread going to work, and find yourself not working to your capacity, but sticking around for the paycheck, you may want to consider leaving or changing your status within the company. Unless you desperately want to leave this company, you may be able to find a way to reduce your hours or responsibilities, or take on new challenges if that is what you want. While money is important, there are many ways to make money, so why not find a way that makes you happy too?

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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