Are you running around in circles trying to decide your next career move? Here’s a way to find a solution and get moving.
Trying to figure out what to do with your career has to be one of the hardest things in the world to do. Some people are lucky. They’ve known since they were 5 what they’ve wanted to do.
I’m not one of those lucky people. I spent my school years working on a career, and then decided that it really wasn’t working for me, and I needed to change it.
If you’re in the same boat, then you know the frustration that comes along with it: the regret of landing in this job that doesn’t work for you; that feeling of stuckness because you don’t know how to proceed, and wondering why you just can’t make this decision.
You’re a smart cookie. You’ve been making decisions all your life. So why is this so hard?
I thought that I just needed more info to make an informed decision. So I checked job boards, I took classes on the side. I even went through the gamut of personality tests to see what kind of career I would identify with.
While all of it was very educational and got me closer to understanding myself, I still couldn’t pull the plug and just go DO something else. That is, until I finally figured out what the problem was.
In retrospect, this was a smack-my-forehead moment because it seemed so obvious. In any case, once I saw it, the career puzzle started to come together.
Your career is tied to so many different aspects of your life: finances, family responsibilities, social standing, self-worth, your value to society. The list goes on!
When you make a change to your career, you’re going to affect ALL of those areas, and they’re going to conflict with each other. That’s why it feels like a perpetual juggling act whenever you try to make any career decisions.
Let’s look at some examples:
- Example #1: Working less hours
- What you get: more time, less stress, more freedom
- What you compromise: Not getting paid as much. Value in company could go down
- Example #2: Taking a promotion
- What you get: Your pay and value increase
- What you compromise: Possibly staying late in the office and your spouse may need to take on more family responsibilities.
So what do you do when every decision tends to have this teeter-totter effect?
Fortunately, there’s a simple thing you can do. It starts with getting a clear idea about:
a) what area you want to change – and –
b) where you’re willing to compromise
To do that, you’ll want to prioritize the areas that affect your career. Here’s how to do that.
1. Make a list of all the different areas that your career affects. Pick the ones that resonate with you. You can download a LIST HERE or make your own.
2. From the list in step#1, pick your top 6. If you have less than that, that’s ok.
3. Prioritize them. Are finances more important than family life? If you had to give up one to have the other, which would you rather have?
So Now What?
When you figure out your priorities, you’ll start to see whether your career decisions are actually giving you what you want.
Priorities high on your list are super-important and generally have little room to compromise. Those lower on the list (or those that didn’t even make the short list) are areas where you’re more willing to compromise to get something higher on the list.
In my priority list, I ranked health higher than finances. So when I got tired of being constantly stressed and frustrated with my current job, I decided to work less hours (example #1 above). I took an extra day off of work for greater peace of mind, and the hit to my finances was so worth it.
Think about what you’d be willing to give up to get what’s more important to you. If family is more important than your your company values, you might be more willing to say ‘no’ to a late meeting rather than miss your daughter’s play.
Good luck! Let me know how this helps you in the comments below.