Nobody wants to job search. Sometimes, you may start the process because you got passed over for a promotion, or because you’re moving away, or because you lost your job. And other times, you do it because you’re no longer fulfilled by your role or feel valued.

But there are also times when you’re motivated to find something new that don’t necessarily have to do with changes at your company or your current responsibilities. In fact, according to a recent survey by CEB discussed in The Washington Post, it’s the little things that happen outside the office that might have the biggest impact.

“…Unsurprisingly, job search activity jumped the most, by 17%, when people had a change in their manager or their responsibilities. But just behind that was attending a major gathering with friends, family, or classmates, such as a class reunion. And birthdays came in third, at 12%. More traditional professional moments that might prompt self-reflection—an anniversary at the company, say—sparked a 6% boost in job-seeking activity...”

Sure, traditional reasons make this list, but the surprising discovery is that competition among peers and birthdays are also included. People aren’t necessarily leaving because they’re unhappy, but because they don’t think they measure up to their own friends or their own internal expectations—if my college roommate’s already a manager, shouldn’t I be? or I can’t believe I’ve been here five years and haven’t done XYZ.

What does this mean for you? That when you first get that feeling in the back of your mind that you need a new job, you should take the time to ask yourself why. There are plenty of good reasons! But there are also bad ones, like leaving a perfectly good position so that you can have bragging rights when you run into an old high school classmate in the checkout line. Or, believing you don’t measure up to expectations you made for yourself 15 years ago—by the time I hit 35, I’ll definitely be running my own company—that were a bit unrealistic.

The number one question to ask yourself is, “Am I happy and fulfilled by what I do?” If the answer is yes, the rest doesn’t really matter.

(And if the answer is no, we know about 10,000+ jobs right this way!)


Photo of person thinking courtesy of mapodile/Getty Images.