How To Decide on a Career or Job Change

the thinkerSome decisions in life are easier to make than others. The decision to change careers or a job has been rated as one of the most stressful decisions a person can make.

When making the decision to switch careers or a job, it’s important to have studied the various pro and cons of making the move, as well as the impact on you and others in your life. In addition, it is equally as important to explore the associated risks and rewards of making the change. In this article, I’d like to share some important considerations gleaned from my coaching work helping people to make decisions related to their future job or career path.

Identify What Makes You Happy

Consider the factors that would motivate you change your current situation and move toward your ideal job or career. Which of these factors might make you happier? Is it making more money? Being in a higher status position? Working for a different boss, or organization that values and uses your skill set, or fosters opportunities for growth? Using your creativity more? Being with more supportive colleagues?

Can You Change Without Changing?

Are you able to work with your existing boss or organization to make your situation better and increase your happiness on one or more of the happiness factors? Can you move to a different position in your field that utilizes the same or similar skill set? What are the range of opportunities if you do make a change?

Explore But Ignore Your Gut Instinct.

Your gut instinct is founded in your interpretation of past experiences that are influenced by all of your personal prejudices, positive and negative experiences. While sometimes helpful, these experiences, oftentimes, make it difficult to evaluate most new situations objectively-especially those where you have had no prior experience. Try and suspend your biases while working through your career or job options.

Identify How New Situations Align with Your Values

Write down what you value, and rate these values from most important, to the least important. Think very carefully about the priority of each of these at your current stage in life and how they impact what career or job choice would make you the most fulfilled. Here are some examples of values to consider when writing out your list:

  • Peace
  • Security
  • Justice
  • Morality
  • Family/Significant others
  • Romance
  • Life
  • Personal Growth
  • Social Justice/Equality
  • Social Status
  • Wealth/ financial freedom
  • Accomplishment
  • Fun and Recreation
  • Authenticity
  • Compassion
  • Excellence
  • Fairness
  • Family
  • Harmony
  • Health
  • Making a Difference

Seek feedback from others

Ask others their opinions; not on what decision you should make, but present them with your rationale behind the options that you are considering and request their feedback on what factors they considered when they have made similar decisions in their lives. Ask them what did and did not work for them, as well as what challenges they faced and how they did or did not overcome them. Listen and learn from their experiences. Also ask people who are in careers that you are considering to meet with you to tell you about the challenges, opportunities, and rewards of their jobs.

Research the issue in depth.

By researching your options you can reduce any risk, uncertainty, fears or confusion. Research will enable you to gain varying perspectives and uncover your options, as well as help you distinguish between facts and opinions.

Reconcile your own interests and values, the feedback of others, and the facts derived from the research.

Set a time frame to make a decision, and then objectively review the feedback from others, your research and your own thoughts and values. Reflect on which direction you would like to commit for now. Realize that although you are committing you can change direction if for some reason your plan does not work out.

Create Your Plan

Once your decision is made -begin to put action steps and timeframes on goal accomplishment. Get someone who can hold you accountable and mentor you toward your goal. This is where a coach, consultant or mentor is needed to help you put your ideas into action and increase the likelihood of your success.

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