If you are a lady and you are over eighteen, you have probably made some version of the phone call I made to Emily in the fall of 2013.

“He’s been posting in the casual encounters section of Craigslist!” I wailed. Did I mention this phone call took place at 11 p.m.? Emily has earned sainthood many times over the course of our friendship.

Before she had a chance to answer, I soldiered on. “But I don’t know if he’s done anything.”

We have this tendency, all of us, to justify things to ourselves.

This relationship isn’t as bad as I’m imagining.

If I leave my job now, I’ve wasted four years of my life.

If I just hang in there, I can make this right.

I was working myself up to a full analysis of what may or may not have happened when Emily stopped me cold.

“Does it really matter?”

I didn’t know what to say. When I stopped to think about it, of course it didn’t. The relationship terms had already been violated. Just because it wasn’t as bad as it could have been didn’t mean it was good.

We don’t just do this in relationships; we do it constantly in our careers.

Have you ever taken a job offer even though you know the commute is soul-crushing, because you convinced yourself free soda in the break room totally made up for it? What about taken a job where all your “danger!” flags went up, but the money was too good to turn down?

Life is about trade-offs. No  job can check all your boxes. But your job should also not have a massive flaw that will make you miserable Monday through Friday. The trick is to ask yourself: does it really matter?

Does it really matter if they pay you $75,000 if your would-be boss is a horrible gossip?

Does it really matter if there are flexible hours if you have to commute an hour each way?

Does that tempting perk or benefit make up for that One Glaring Thing?

We’re going to explore this more over the coming weeks – if you have a personal story or would like to contribute a post to this series, email us.