How to Make Your Next Big Career Decision — And Why It's Important to Consider All Factors

a woman at a desk


Jessica Howington for FlexJobs
Jessica Howington for FlexJobs
May 20, 2024 at 3:17AM UTC
We all face a significant turning point in our careers that forces us to choose the next step. For some, this might be taking a promotion or returning to school. Others might need to determine if pursuing a remote or freelance role is the best next move.
When it comes to making decisions about your career, it can be tough to know where to start. How do you know if you’re headed in the right direction? And what should you do if you’re not sure what you want to do next? We’ve got some tips to make the decision-making process more manageable.

Making Informed Career Decisions

So, how do you make a career decision when you’re torn between two choices? The best option is often the tried-and-true pros and cons list. But instead of tangible items, such as salary, title, and location, take some time to consider the following aspects of how a new career path will fit your life overall.

Create time for yourself.

The first step is to prioritize the decision-making process. If a friend or loved one was struggling with a dilemma, you would probably offer to sit down and work through it with them. When facing a difficult decision, it’s essential to give yourself the same support. While big career decisions often take over our thoughts, trying to make crucial choices while you’re running errands or making dinner can be overwhelming.
Instead, select a time when you’re feeling positive and rested, and give yourself space to explore all of the possibilities. Choose a time of day when you have minimal distractions and focus on yourself and the choices at hand.

Consider how the change aligns with your values.

While it’s essential to consider the practical aspects of any job, it’s also vital to think about how it will align with your values. Values are the guiding principles in your life, such as time with family, making a difference for a cause that you’re passionate about, and flexibility to pursue your hobbies or passions.
For some people, an important consideration might be whether the hours of the role are compatible with their family time or other commitments outside of work. For others, the company culture and values might be a significant factor in whether they feel proud to be a part of the organization. There are many different ways to compare a potential career move with your values, and it is important to take the time to consider them before making a decision.

Detail your ideal work-life balance.

Ask yourself if you’re looking for a specific lifestyle. Do you want to live in a downtown apartment and ride your bike to work? Do you yearn to be a digital nomad? Once you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for in your life as a whole, you can evaluate whether or not a potential job or career move will help you achieve those goals. Even if the job doesn’t provide everything you’re looking for, it may be a step in the right direction. The most important thing is to keep your goals in mind to keep moving toward them.

Use your network for research.

Before getting caught up in the excitement, take the time to research the role and speak to people already working in the field. Networking and informational interviews can help you learn more about the day-to-day reality of the job and whether it would be a good fit for you. You might discover that the job requires long hours, travel, or other commitments that you are not willing to make. Or, you might find out that the work is not as challenging or engaging as you had hoped. Talking to others in the field can give you a more realistic picture of what to expect.

Don’t limit yourself.

Could it be that you’re struggling with your choices because neither is truly the path you’d love to take? If you’re honest with yourself, are you considering a potential career path simply because it seems like the “safe” option? If so, you may feel unfulfilled and trapped down the road. On the other hand, if you choose a career based on your passion and excitement, you are more likely to find success and satisfaction. You’ll often find that the rewards far outweigh the risks.
So, ask yourself if you are genuinely considering all of your options. Or, are you allowing yourself to be limited by your fears and assumptions? For instance, you might think it’s too late to start a new career or that you’re too young to get the promotion you really want. You may be surprised at what you’re capable of if you give yourself a chance.

Considering All of the Factors

Making a career decision can be daunting, but it is essential to take your time and consider all the factors before committing. Though salary and title are both important factors to consider, it is also necessary to think about how the job will align with your values, what work-life balance it will offer, and whether you’ll be able to passionately learn and grow in the role.
This article originally appeared in FlexJobs. FlexJobs is the leading career service specializing in flexible work, providing the largest database of vetted remote and flexible job listings. To support job seekers in all phases of their journey, FlexJobs offers a range of services including expert advice, job search events, and career coaching. FlexJobs also works with leading companies to recruit quality remote talent and optimize their remote and flexible workplace.

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