Questioning Your Next Career Move?

Questioning Your Next Career Move?

Are you at a crossroads on your career path where you don't know whether to stay where you are comfortable or take the leap into the unknown? Is this manifesting itself in your inability to enjoy your life just being in the moment because you are always preoccupied with these thoughts? Does this keep you awake at night because it feels like a huge weight is upon you? Is your inner voice telling you that it is time for a change?

These feelings can occur at any time during your career journey, beginning as early as when you have selected your major in college and then you start to feel a nagging sensation that you are headed down the wrong path. As you question your choice, your friends and family reassure you that you made the right decision, so you ignore those nagging feelings and stick with it. Later, once you have started working in your field after graduation, those nagging feelings can resurface, again making you question your choice. This may be the time that you decide to jump ship, before you have too much time invested in this choice.

But what if you decide to stick with it for awhile? At what point do you make the choice to pursue a career that is more in line with your core values, passion, and purpose? Once you become indebted with a mortgage and have children, is this a good time to make a major career change? Many people choose to stick it out until the kids are in college. How old will you be then? Will you have the energy and passion to start a new career? Will you be able to get a job without "experience" in the new industry? What if your company decides to downsize after you have committed to staying there? Will you be prepared for a mid-career transition? Are there things you can do now to prepare?

What if that nagging feeling that you are not serving your purpose never goes away? When is the right time to pursue your passion and go after that dream job? What regrets will you have if you never do this? If you are not feeling fulfilled in your current job or career, you are not alone. Many people suffer in silence because from all outward appearances, they have a "dream job." But is it a dream - or is it a nightmare, when you spend roughly half of your waking hours unhappy?

As a career coach, I hear many stories of why someone is still working in a job they don't like. One of the best lessons learned is that all jobs serve a purpose in the short-term, but not all jobs are meant to serve for the long haul. The key is to decide when a job has outlived its usefulness or when you have outlived the constraints of the job. Every story and reason is somewhat different, but they all have common themes. Here are five of the most common considerations in choosing whether to leave or stay:

  1. Is there growth potential? If you accept a position that has no growth potential, then there should be other factors that are a higher priority to keep you there. Many people choose a career because of the opportunities for professional development and career advancement. If you have no place to grow, then eventually in the career world, you will most likely fall behind.
  2. Is there alignment between your core values and the company's mission and vision? If you are in alignment, the job will more than likely be meaningful and you will find fulfillment in the work that you do. If however, there is a misalignment between your values and the company or leadership' s values, you will more than likely experience higher than normal feelings of stress and frustration.
  3. Do you feel valued as a team member for your contributions? When you feel valued for your contributions, you often have high levels of engagement with the work that you are doing and feel good about how your contributions impact the bottom line. This can increase your level of customer service delivered as well as your overall productivity. Without that sense of belonging, it is easy to feel that your work, and you, don't really matter all that much.
  4. Does the job offer a great benefit package? With the high cost of benefits if you have to pay them out-of-pocket, is it worth it to stay to have the expense of them covered? I have often been told that this was one of the hardest things to leave behind, especially if transitioning into freelance work or self-employment. While many items included in a benefit package can be purchased privately, there is no one cost-sharing the expense or adding matching funds, so determining the importance of this before you leave can be financially significant.
  5. Are you fulfilling your passion or sense of purpose? More and more people are finding that this is one of the biggest reasons why their inner voice is telling them that they should find a new career. As the workplace landscape continues to change and more emphasis is put on systems, processes, and outcomes, people are beginning to feel more isolated, both physically as in the case of remote work spaces, as well as mentally from not only the big picture of the work that they do each day, but also from their co-workers. The feeling of being a small fish in a big sea can cause much frustration and a lack of a sense of completing work that is meaningful.

Notice that one of the things that I did not mention was money. While most everyone works for a paycheck, many people find that working to have a sense of accomplishment or a feeling of helping people has a far deeper meaning and a longer-lasting sense of the worthiness of work than simply the paycheck. After all, the job you are currently in is not the only one that can provide you with a paycheck.

While each person must decide for themselves what reasons constitute good reasons to stay or go, this list should supply you with some of the intangibles that you may wish to consider. In the end, determining your priorities and how they are being satisfied in your current job will help to determine your path. Should you choose to take the leap into the unknown, researching and exploring options while being gainfully employed in the security of your current job will help to pave the path of your transition with less risk and more forethought. No matter which path you choose, happy travels!

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