Decisions that could change your life can be difficult to make, and that’s particularly true of career decisions. In some respects, you have no way of knowing all the possible outcomes of a given career choice at the outset and won’t know exactly how it will shape up until it’s a done deal (hindsight being 20-20, as the saying goes).
I seriously doubt whether anyone can give you a definitive prediction ahead of time as to how a particular career decision you’re considering will play out. Someone who’s astute enough (and maybe experienced enough) might be able to make a good “educated guess,” and that could be the best you can hope for if you’re looking for assurances. However, you still need to do some digging (research) to gather information that’s potentially useful for your decision-making process and will enable you to put together a sensible job search or career change plan.
Do You Need a Career Decision-Making Checklist?
Recently I read an article by Paul Jun titled “The Career Crossroads Checklist: What to do when you don’t know what to do next.” Jun’s article lists 5 key questions to look at when figuring out your direction and next steps:
1. Who will I become if I take this opportunity?
2. What is the opportunity cost of this opportunity? [Note: A while ago I published an article about career management opportunity costs on LinkedIn’s Pulse platform. You can take a look at that if you haven’t read it yet and see my take on the subject.]
3. What “frames” are around this option?
4. What sacrifices do I need to make if I take this opportunity?
5. Is it worth it?
It’s helpful if you look at Jun’s explanation for each question. On #3, for instance, he says, in part: “The placement of ‘frames’ around a potential decision influences how you act and what you can or cannot see. When you remove those frames for just a moment, you begin to see possibilities that didn’t exist before.”
What Key Decision Factors Do You Need to Consider?
I’m not covering totally new territory here, of course. One of my pet topics is the fact that job seekers and others who are trying to make career decisions don’t always look closely at elements that warrant careful attention, if they consider them at all. Suppose your career crossroads involves a potential relocation. What should you be looking closely at then, for example
? Family and friends (really good friends): Will you need to leave some of them behind to relocate, and how much does that matter to you?
? Health: Could the new career direction create so much added stress that your health would suffer–perhaps seriously?
? Community: If you’ve built a strong reputation in your community and are highly regarded there, how would that affect you if you move?
And that’s just for starters. Depending on your situation, you might come up with several other factors that require attention before you decide what to do next.
That ties back to Jun’s question #5, “Is it worth it?” You’re probably the only person who can really answer that–if you’re unattached and don’t have to consider others in making your decision; otherwise, you will want to gather input from the people who will be affected by your choice.