Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before You Change Your Career Path

a woman thinking at work

Canva/Fairygodboss

Profile Picture
VIP
Angie Callen268
Life-Centric Career and Business Coach
May 30, 2024 at 1:50PM UTC

Are you considering a career change? It’s time to shake things up, do something more meaningful, or get yourself on a track to higher earning potential?

Whatever your motivations, there are some very pragmatic things to stop and consider before taking the leap into a career change. 

Hint: one of them happens to be about your motivations!

There really has never been a better time to change careers. The market is more accepting of alternative backgrounds and non-traditional candidates than ever. 

However, taking a strategic approach and making a planned shift will set you up for success in the long run. Take it from someone who left the high-paying (and great-for-cocktail-conversations) engineering career in the middle of the Great Recession without a plan; there are good ways to make career changes. And then there are risky ones. 

Mitigate the risk by asking yourself these 5 questions before you change your career path: 

1. Why Am I Seeking Change?

“I’m unhappy in my job.” 

Even those of us who own our businesses get to be our own bosses and love what we do have bad days and unhappy seasons, so stopping and assessing why you’re inspired to make a change is an excellent first step. 

Is the company you work for making you miserable? Is the position you have boring and uninspiring? Or is it a little of both – the company isn’t working for you, and neither is the job nor the career path it’s leading you down?

Your answers to these questions can help you formulate a strategy on where to go. If you‘re in a lackluster company but like WHAT you do, perhaps it’s time to change jobs and not an entire career. 

If the company is solid, but the job is a snooze, consider looking for opportunities to make an internal shift, so you can explore something new with the safety net of a company you love. 

If neither is working for you, you’re probably onto something with the idea of a more significant change. 

2. What’s missing from my current role?

Clients always pause when I ask them this question because it can be eye-opening. We’re really good about talking about what’s working, but when you sit and think about what’s missing, you can discover things you never knew were important to you. That’s hugely helpful in determining some of the goals for your career future! 

3. What are my values? 

Core values are very popular in the business and entrepreneurial world, but I think they’re an often-overlooked asset on a personal level. 

Knowing your core values and priorities can help you identify what’s missing (see #2!) and help you find companies better aligned with your goals, which has been a proven game changer in finding career satisfaction. 

4. Where am I at financially? 

Be honest with yourself on this one. While I like to think there are options for every career changer at every financial goal, your money needs can drastically change your options. 

Do you need to make at least the same amount of money? Are you hoping to go up or grow in future earning potential? Do you have some wiggle room to step back to open more opportunities down the road? 

Know what you need to live. Know what you need to retire. Know where you can sacrifice while still feeding yourself and maintaining your quality of life, so you know exactly what you need to make and can ensure the career options you target align with those needs. 

5. Am I seeking change for the right reasons?

What are your motivations for this change? If you’ve worked through the questions above and determined the real reasons behind your current state of unhappiness, then I’d say your motivations are spot on. 

That said, it isn’t a great idea to make a career change (or any big decision for that matter) when other big life stuff is happening. From rocky roads at home to grief, health problems, and more – these all cause emotional imbalances that do not provide the best foundation for sound decision-making. 

If a big life shake-up triggers the seeming need for a career change, pause and make sure the drives are real and practical over emotional and reactionary. 

BONUS: What’s My Goal?

If you’ve taken the time to work through these five recommendations, you’re likely ready to set a goal for your career. That could  be everything from staying where you’re at to finding a new job in your current field at the next level, or it could be “I’m going to do this THING I’ve always wanted to do.” 

Regardless, you can confidently take the next step that you’ve done your due diligence and taken charge of your career path. The next move is on you!

--

This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Angie is a Certified Professional Career Coach and Resume Writer, and the founder of Career Benders. She’s a Carnegie Mellon graduate and has over five years of experience helping business professionals and entrepreneurs achieve career satisfaction. 

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for changing career paths? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always