Dear Rachel,

I am the type of person who is passionate about my work and I love challenge and intellectual stimulation. I found what I thought was the perfect job a few years ago and have dedicated myself tirelessly to it. But, recently, I find that I am just burning out and not sure if this is what I should be doing any longer. On the one hand, I feel blessed to have a great position and that I shouldn't complain or rock the boat, but on the other, I feel that I am not getting any younger and I will never know if there is something better out there for me unless I look and try. What do you suggest?

Burned Out

Dear Burned Out,

The interesting thing in your letter is that you state that you absolutely loved your work, and that you no longer do, but you say nothing about any conditions or situations at work which may have changed to cause this. Therefore, it leads me to believe that your job has not changed as much as you, perhaps, may have changed.

Before you make a decision as big as giving up your job, you first need to be honest with yourself to figure out why you are no longer happy and if that is something that will change with a new position, or if that is something that you need to change within yourself.

Often, when we become frustrated or bored with our current situation, we want to run and find something else. There is always the feeling that something better is out there, something that will pay more, be more satisfying, more rewarding… basically, be perfect. And yet, as we learn the hard way, rarely is the grass greener on the other side.

From the most practical side of things, I would say that you should not even think of giving up your job unless you have secured another position or are sure that you can find a job in the field you want to pursue. But I think even better than that would be to turn the job you currently have, once again, into the perfect one for you.

There is no question that many people end up in a work environment out of need, and it is something they simply have to do even if they dread it. But you sound different. You did love what you were doing, you did have passion for it, and it was a great job for you. So now the question is if you can make it that once again. Are you really interested in leaving so that you can find something else to be passionate about, or does it just seem easier than the work and effort it would take to find that passion in your current job?

This is a concept that the Lubavitcher Rebbe emphasized when discussing the redemption from Egypt. He explained that there are times that you need to be redeemed from a place, but there are times where the place itself is what needs to be redeemed. This is also seen in that the word for exile, golah, is the same word as that of redemption, geulah, except that "redemption" has the Hebrew letter "aleph" added, which represents G‑dliness. This shows us that we need to rely not just on ourselves, but to have faith in our Creator as well; and furthermore, redemption is not simply leaving exile, but actually redeeming the exile itself! What was already there remains, but by adding a new dimension, it has just now been transformed as opposed to abandoned.

Spend some time thinking about what you do, what you have to offer, and what you can do to make your current situation one that you once again enjoy. If you really put effort into this and you find that you can again dedicate yourself to your work and find fulfillment in it, great. If not, then perhaps after giving it a serious shot, you should explore your other options. But unless you work for fun and do not need it as a source of income, do not be quick to pass up something that is sure and secure for the unknown, unless you have strong reason to believe that what lies out there is better than the "perfect" job you once thought you had.