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YourCareerDec14Whether you’re looking for a new position or a recruiter unexpectedly reaches out to you with an opportunity, the idea of a new job is consistently both exciting and terrifying.

Taking a new job often comes with huge risks: It means leaving your comfort zone and engaging in the unexpected; it means forming new relationships with new co-workers in a new office; it means working in an unknown corporate culture that may or may not be a good fit. But not seeking out or accepting a new position—particularly for those who have spent several years in the same role—also raises some important questions: Are there better opportunities out there that I may be missing out on? Does my current employer value the work I’m currently doing? Can I do more meaningful work here or somewhere else? Am I being compensated appropriately?

Then, of course, there is the possibility that when you do get an offer and you give notice, you current employer will counter—and that’s where the aforementioned “risks” and “important questions” really start duking it out.

The truth is that most people who consider a new position, even if they were not actively looking for a job, do so largely because they are unhappy in some way with their current employment situation. Sure, the perks posed in a counteroffer—more money, a promotion or telecommuting options, to name a few—can be tempting. But staying put is the wrong decision unless the counteroffer actually fixes whatever made you willing to interview elsewhere.

The counteroffer scenario affords an even greater opportunity that goes beyond simply answering the question: Should I stay or should I go? It opens the door for self-reflection and career analysis.

When an offer is on the table from another company, and sitting next to it is a counteroffer from your current employer, look at the big picture, revisit or even redefine your career goals, and truly assess what matters to you.  Usually money is not the No. 1 decision-making point.

Whether it’s career advancement or more flexibility and work-life balance, this is the opportunity to figure out what you want and make it happen. You will be glad you did.

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