If you are contemplating making a job change, it’s time to ask yourself the hard question: How much of your motivation is running to a new opportunity, versus running from your present situation? There are some days that every employee dreads strapping on the uniform and going to work. And there are some jobs that downright sap the joy out of working.

When the moment comes that you begin considering whether you want to make a change, you must first determine what you are running to, or running from.

The Downside: Running From

If your primary motivation is to leave a particular job, then almost everything out there will look good to you. You’ll be in such a hurry to leave that you’ll overlook some significant aspect about that new job that will turn sour once you’re there for a little while.

And then you’ll start thinking about running from that job.

Have you taken the time to determine specifically (and unemotionally) what is frustrating you in your current role? Begin by building a clear list, identifying what causes you to dislike what you do.

In the process of building the list, identify three entries:

The things you can control

The things you can influence

Things you can neither control nor influence

You may find there are actions you can take to alleviate frustration by addressing some of the concerns directly. At the very least, you’ll have a clearer idea of areas to investigate in any new opportunity, to ensure it will not be present there.

The Upside: Running To

Begin by developing a list of perhaps 12 to 20 clear, measurable criteria about the new job opportunity, such as compensation, culture, commute, benefits, your potential boss and the like. Once you have thoroughly investigated the new opportunity, you’re ready to objectively compare it point-by-point to your current situation.

What will you be giving up (such as having a track record of a certain period of time) to take the new opportunity? What will you gain by moving?

Only when you see that the new opportunity offers clear advantages should you consider making the change. If the comparison is roughly equal, then tough it out and continue looking, while figuring out what you can do differently to make your current situation more enjoyable.

You know it’s the right move when the new opportunity is one that is measurably better than your current situation, where you can easily envision yourself being passionate about being there five years from now.

One final piece of advice: Always leave well. You never know when you will need the future support of your former employer and supervisors.