Career decisions are never easy. And with a new year approaching, you may be thinking about making a change. Perhaps you are considering quitting your job. If you are, you are in good company. In September alone, a record 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs. Many of those workers moved on to positions with more flexibility, while an increase in new business filings suggests that others left to start their own businesses. According to the Census Bureau’s Business Formation Statistics data, nearly 1 million new business applications were filed from January through June 2021—the most on record through the first six months of the year.
If you find yourself questioning your next professional move, the process may seem daunting. Maybe you’re afraid that you’ll make a mistake and find yourself back in a similar unsatisfying work environment. Or you are not sure what your strengths are. That’s why a framework is such a valuable tool. Taking your thoughts and putting them down on paper (or on the computer) will make it easier to gather information, analyze your options, and make more informed choices.
Let’s begin with these ten simple steps to make better career decisions.
Know your why when making career decisions
The first step is to understand why you want to make a change. Is it because you can’t stand your boss? In that case, you may want to consider another position internally. Are you looking for more flexibility? Maybe you can negotiate remote workdays with your manager. Or perhaps you decided the work itself just isn’t fulfilling anymore. Whatever the reason, understanding your why will help you know what direction to take next.
Identify your top values
If your values are not aligned with your career, you will never be truly happy. So, think about your top five. Some examples could be:
- Making a difference
Once you identify those primary values, you can make a more informed career decision.
Envision your ideal state
Take some time to really visualize what you would like your life to look like. Then, write it down using as much detail as possible. Include things like where you live, what your office looks like and the type of people you work with. Without a clear vision, you won’t be able to get to your destination.
Keep an open mind when making career decisions
Don’t assume that your career options are limited based on your age, level of experience or other factors. Even if you want to start a new career but don’t have experience in the field, it can be done.
Talk to people
As you investigate different careers, talk to people in the field. There is no better way to get a feel for an industry than by interviewing professionals immersed in it daily.
Take your time
Don’t rush into making a career decision. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a similar situation (or worse) than where you are now.
Test the waters when making career decisions
If possible, try your new career on for size. Perhaps you can work on some consulting projects in your spare time. Or volunteer one or two days a week. By getting a feel for the daily grind, you will make a well-informed career decision.
Explore your options
This is the time to think about different opportunities. What are some professions you’ve dreamed of trying but never pursued? Open yourself up to the possibilities and explore your options.
Embrace the fear when making career decisions
Fear is always present—especially if you are considering a significant career change. But the important thing to remember is that fear is normal. And it can actually be a good sign. Many times, the fear is letting us know that we are stretching ourselves in new directions. In other words, you are growing rather than staying stagnant.
Listen to your intuition
Do you know that little voice inside you that lets you know when something is wrong? Listen to it. It could feel like a knot in your stomach or just a whisper. By listening to your instincts, you give yourself a chance to grow your career.
Making career decisions can be difficult. But you’ll never know what you are capable of until you take that leap. What’s important is to continue to take small steps towards your goals. Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction will make the biggest impact.