Have you ever had a moment in your professional journey where you felt backed into a corner? Maybe you felt pressured into making the wrong career move, only to regret it later. I sure have! Making hasty decisions can cost you dearly, and it’s very easy to do when you’re desperate for a change. The good news is that you can dodge a mountain of blunders just by enhancing your self-reflection process.
If you want to learn how to avoid (or even fix) career change mistakes, keep reading for five questions to ponder the next time you find yourself at a profession-related fork in the road.
The Biggest Career Change Mistake to Avoid
One common career change mistake tops the rest for two main reasons.
First, it’s easy to make this mistake early in the process without realizing it (especially when under emotional stress). Second, it’s a tripwire move that could trigger a sequence of ongoing misjudgments!
That mistake is making career shifts without first getting MASSIVE clarity.
You might feel that something needs to change urgently but have no idea what or why. If you start updating your resume, scanning job boards, and setting up interviews without unpacking the roots, your chances of success are pretty slim.
5 Questions to Help You Navigate a Career Change Decision
Remember, since your goal is true career satisfaction, you must ensure you’re progressing toward what you want (rather than simply moving away from what you don’t want). Ask yourself five questions to get the clarity you need to make an informed decision:
1. “WHY Do I Want to Change Careers?”
This question may seem pretty basic, but it’s incredible how often we settle for an unhelpful answer like, “Because my job sucks.” Think about it. If that answer provided any real clarity, far more than just 20% of employees worldwide would feel engaged at work!
Do you feel like you’re not fulfilling your potential or that you’ve outgrown your role? Do you work in an unsupportive environment? Are you watching your friends make impressive career moves and experiencing a little FOMO?
Dig deep into the root cause of your desire for change.
2. “What Does a Successful Career Look Like to Me?”
Another way to avoid a costly career mistake is to map out what a successful profession means for you.
Some women want to reach the highest peak of their career ladder; others prefer to get to a certain level and focus on perfecting their area of specialization. Likewise, most women want to create an impact with their work, but the desired magnitude looks different for everyone. And so on.
Once you determine your definition of success, you’ll stop wasting time and energy striving for what you think you should want.
3. “What Type of Career Change Am I Looking For?”
Many believe a career change always involves a drastic shift, but there is a broad spectrum of possibilities here. Your goal could be to find a different job within the same profession, shift paths completely, or land somewhere in the middle.
Sometimes career satisfaction comes just by making a few minor tweaks to the role you already have; other times, the best way to find it is by stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something completely new.
Either way, clarity is essential!
4. “What Are My Values and How Will This Career Shift Honor Them?”
Another career change mistake people often make is making moves that don’t align with who they are.
Career satisfaction isn’t just about liking your daily work tasks. It’s also about being able to live and move authentically, and authenticity goes back to your values. Take some time to figure out what matters to you and why. Then you’ll have the insight and personal conviction needed to distinguish job opportunities you align with from ones that aren’t the right fit.
5. “What Inner-Work Do I Need to Do to Prepare for This Change?”
By the time you go through the first five questions, you’ll already have done some significant inner work. So what do I mean by this question?
This stage is about shedding baggage because ignoring it is another costly career change mistake!
I often point to the example of someone who gets divorced, doesn’t take time to unpack or take personal responsibility for what went wrong, and then moves on to a new partner. All the old stuff eventually resurfaces, and they are back at square one!
Remember that you take yourself with you wherever you go. So what baggage do you need to get rid of before making your next career move? It could be any number of things (including excessive people-pleasing!).
Clarity Leads to Contentment
As a career change and leadership coach, I can tell you that very few people land their dream jobs by accident. It’s a very intentional process that often requires slowing down, which isn’t easy. Drop me a line if you need someone to guide you through the process. You’d be surprised how much a little extra clarity can help you find the career satisfaction you deserve.