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I left an engineering position after 4 years for a job with better commute, PTO, salary, and hopefully work-life balance. Two months in and I feel like I want my old job back. I miss my old coworkers, my old boss, and feeling like my role is making an impact on the company. I was told I am welcomed back. They can match or exceed my new pay and PTO, just not the commute (35-45 mins down to 10 mins).

I left on great terms and didn't really dislike my work situation, I just felt I could improve it (I was frustrated many times and sometimes felt overworked, but its hard to place this feeling in retrospect). Maybe this change was sort of a perspective check I needed. I worry that I'm simply nostalgic for my old position and missing the comfort/familiarity of it. Anyone face something similar? If I want to go back, how much longer should I wait? I think that I need to give this new job a few more months just to see how it pans out once I start gaining some momentum.

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  • Do you miss your old work, or is it actually that you are not liking your current work at all? If you enjoy both, then perhaps yes, you are being nostalgic or having second thoughts... also, how do you know they can match or exceed your new pay and PTO? Why not ask for a raise or contract renegotiation instead of quitting for another job?
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 23:52
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    make a list of all the things you DON'T like about your new job. Then cross everything of you can change. Then think about the remaining things, if you really cant change it? Then think about if you could live with those. Then, if you are still unsure, you have a better basis for this post. This helps people to make specific instead of generic answers.
    – Benjamin
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 7:08

5 Answers 5

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What should I do? - well that is a question for which only you have the best answer.


Or am I just being nostalgic?

Well, you may as well be. Just do not let light feelings drive your actions. While feelings are important, please make a proper analysis of all factors before taking and implementing a decision.


Should I return to my old job?

As I said, make a proper analysis of all factors. Only you know which are the factors, and how important they are.

Some questions to have in mind during the analysis:

  1. Why did you leave the previous job? Was it bad? Who / what was bad?
  2. Why did you join the current company?
  3. Does it really make a big difference for you in which company you work?

In my personal case, there are very small chances that I would return to a previous job. For each case, there are several reasons not to return.

However, I know people to returned to their previous jobs with no problems. I even know one case when a guy left and re-joined the same company several times in one year, before moving to another country, and thus breaking the "spell".

I even know a case when a guy returned to a company, after leaving them in the most unfriendly terms - very strong arguments, very bad loud cursing and so on. Complete "circus". Bu after some time he considered it is more beneficial to return, there were some negotiations, and finally he returned. The last time when I had some info, he was still there.

Personally, I also return to previous jobs, but only while dreaming during proper sleep. I guess that I return to my previous jobs when sleeping exactly for the reasons you touched already: not everything was bad. Maybe some colleagues were very nice, or the projects challenging, or good benefits...


In the end, it is only a matter of what you feel and think to be best for you. Just do not decide based on temporary mood.

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After changing jobs a couple of times, for me personally what I value most is the work environment - colleagues, boss, atmosphere. To me this is something that is much more valuable and hard to interview for.

If you have the opportunity, go and have lunch at your previous company, with your colleagues, see how your mood develops.

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It sounds like you have two great options now. Congratulations.

Be patient with yourself. You're right at the most demanding time of starting your new job; you know what you have to learn and you're scrambling to learn it. And, you're right in the thick of integrating with your new team. If you compare your mastery of your old job with your present scrambles, of course the old job looks good to you.

Don't rule out returning to your old job. Just don't make life-decisions like that too hastily. And be careful about making them on the steepest slope of your new learning curve.

If it were me, I would choose the job which gave me the better chance for continuous learning.

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Don't forget to listen to your gut. There is significant research (e.g. Klein, Kahneman) which shows that in big life decisions your instinct is very helpful.

Since you're going to spend a lot of your time at the workplace I think it qualifies as a life decision. So just like when choosing to marry someone, you're probably not going to pull up an excel sheet with pros and cons, think how does it feel to go back?

If your gut is not helping then know that often nostalgia is actually your brain trying to convince you to go back to wherever was safe and comfy. No hard feelings for the guy, it's just the way it was programmed a long time ago.

Getting out of your comfort zone, one of the biggest challenges for us all, has more than once proved to be the best way to grow and move forward.

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It takes a lot of work to put together a CV, going through interviews and negotiating a new job. And usually this comes after months of considerations. It doesn't sound like what the old job is offering is going to be enough for you not to leave again in a few months. And the thought of your old colleagues was not enough to stop you at any point in a long hiring process. To answer your question, yes, it's very likely you are being nostalgic. I recommend giving this job at least six months before considering going back, or moving again.

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