How To Make The Hardest & Most Important Career Decisions Of Your Life

Photo by Bram Naus on Unsplash

We’ve all been faced with a decision that could change the trajectory of your career path. Sometimes these involve quitting well-paying jobs with benefits or moving across the country, all for a seemingly better opportunity. If you’re faced with an important career decision to make, it can seem impossible, but it is possible, and a lot more manageable with these tips.

What will help you grow the most?

Professionally or personally (bonus points for both) what career choice will help you grow the most? I remember when I applied for a position in New York City, while working as an assistant in my hometown. The thing is, I loved the job I had in my hometown and still keep in contact with those coworkers. I had my own office with an iMac and huge windows, steps away from a coffee shop, a bookstore, and a bakery. AKA, a dream job. But, I had to face the fact that I wasn’t growing in that position in any way – I didn’t have benefits, wasn’t making a ton of money, and there wasn’t really any room to grow with my position. The job that I took in NYC, however, was absolutely more challenging but helped me grow both professionally and personally, and I’m happy to say that I’ve made lifelong connections there. It wasn’t a walk in the park, though, and that brings me to my next point.

Don’t base your decision off of minor inconveniences, but your overall well-being

Since I did grow in my NYC job, I experienced growing pains – how to use the subway, working in a much more fast paced environment, learning company culture, etc. All these things were uncomfortable, but necessary. However, my very first job out of college was so stressful that it made me anxious and constantly physically sick. Although that first job did pay well, had great benefits, and room for growth, the environment was hostile and I knew that it was better in the long-run for me to leave.

When making the decision, it’s important to be honest about whether you are trying to make a career change in search of convenience (the AC is always blaring in your current office and you’d like a job where you feel nice and warm) or things that are actually affecting your well-being (micro-aggressions, fights breaking out in between employees, etc.)

Seek counsel

On my first day of a job I’d eventually quit, an employee sat with me and asked “Are you sure you want to work here?” I didn’t understand it at first, but after staying for a couple of months, I realized what she meant. The environment was not great for employees. Had I reached out to someone who worked there beforehand, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble. I ended up reaching out to someone about the assistant job, and found that they loved the department, and I did, too. When your pondering your own career decisions, talk with others you trust and have them weigh in. They can help you sort through potential roadblocks you aren’t thinking of or provide valuable insight in your decision making.

Think long-term

With every career change I make, I keep in mind that writing full-time is my goal, and base my decision off of that. Think about what you would regret doing (or not doing) in your current career path and where you absolutely want to be down the line, and look and see if your potential career change reflects that. Even though writing full-time is my goal, the best decision wasn’t always to quit my job. Sometimes, it meant staying at a job that I wanted to quit so I could have the luxury to write and pay my bills.

Make a ‘pros and cons’ list

Grab a notepad and make a list of the potential good and bad things that deal with the decision you’re pondering. After that, don’t just pick the answer with the most pros and the least cons. Really weigh each pro and con and consider which ones are you willing to deal with in your decision.

Go through it to get to it

The reality is, even if in your heart you know you’re making the right decision, it may be hard at first. The right decision may involve taking a pay cut, moving across the country, quitting your job or even staying at your current job a little longer than you wanted. You may be tempted to rethink your decision, but stay encouraged in knowing that you’re doing what’s best for you and your career.