November 26, 2022

More than four million people have left their jobs each month in the U.S. so far this year, and 44% of workers are looking for a new job. Research from LinkedIn shows that 87% of people are open to finding better job opportunities, while another study from ADP identified that 7 out of 10  employees had contemplated a major career move this year.

With the ongoing conversations around the “great resignation,” the “big quit,” and “quiet quitting,” the bottom line is this: people are looking for their next career move. And for a wide variety of reasons, it’s not surprising why people are looking for more.

85% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work.
83% of U.S. workers suffer from work-related stress, with 25% saying their job is the number one stressor in their lives.
With only 33% of employees thriving in their overall wellbeing, most would say that they don’t find their work meaningful, don’t think their lives are going well, or don’t feel hopeful about their future.

Some people are leaving due to toxic company cultures, bad managers, low salaries, and a lack of healthy work-life balance while others are looking for change – something new or different, greater fulfillment, a chance to give back, or that elusive “something more.”

I’m here to support those of you who are ready for change, no matter why. You are obviously not alone.

Why is It Often Hard to Make a Career Move?

Well, ask yourself: why am I staying? Perhaps you feel stuck, or you don’t know where to start. You’re terrified of the what-ifs: what if you can’t find another job? What if the next one is worse?

Maybe you have imposter syndrome. You’ve lost your confidence; will anyone want to hire you? Do you have the skills necessary? Perhaps you have been looking, but it all feels daunting and overwhelming.

These are all real and valid worries. But not something to keep you from making the move you need to make.

In fact, have you considered the other what-ifs? What impact is your current situation having on your life, health, relationships, and well-being? What if you keep going the way you are going?

As an executive, career, and leadership coach, I’ve worked with many clients who waited until the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” to leave. But that straw is often a broken marriage, unbearable stress, or a significant health issue that takes over and forces them to leave. My hope is that the right conversations – held BEFORE these drastic measures – lead you to a more fulfilled path.

Don’t wait. If you’re unhappy, stressed, overwhelmed, unfilled, or working in a toxic, unhealthy work environment, there’s no better time to consider a change.

Now, what that change is may look different to different people. You don’t always have to leave your job. Sometimes, you can create change by looking for a new role in the same company, a new challenge, or a new way of working.

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Whether you want to reinvent yourself, change careers entirely, switch up your current role, or return to work after time away from the workforce, keep reading.

If you’re ready to join the millions of people looking for their next career move, here are five simple steps to discover YOUR next.

5 Steps to Discovering Your Next Career Move

Step 1: Take a STEP BACK

It is essential to first take a step back, reflect, look at the big picture, and identify what you really want before moving forward. When you intentionally look from a distance, you see things from a different perspective.

By looking back, you can better articulate what you want to see in the future. Having a clear goal or vision for this next step in your career is essential.

In the words of Stephen Covey:

“It doesn’t really matter how fast you’re going if you’re heading in the wrong direction.”

So, what do you want?

Are you looking for growth and development?
A specific company culture?
A place where you can fully utilize your talents and skills?
Better work-life balance?
Are you looking to feel excited and energized in your role, to have more freedom and autonomy, or to collaborate with people you love?
Or are you wanting to make a difference, get your confidence back or have more stability and consistency?
Are you looking for a role where you feel recognized for your contribution, or it’s a new, exciting challenge you’re after?

Take my client, Stephanie. She was looking for a new role. She had always thought success was climbing up the corporate ladder like many of her colleagues and friends. When she hit a midlife crisis and genuinely thought about what she wanted for her life and career, she identified that work-life balance and contributing to a meaningful cause were much more important than a title, direct reports, and moving up the ranks.

The more specific you can get, the better. But don’t worry about making it perfect. This is step one, and much of what you want will become more evident as you go through the rest of this process.

Step 2: Take a look at YOU

As you explore this next step of your career, a certain amount of self-awareness and soul-searching will be critical to your success. The idea behind this step in the process is to take a closer look at yourself – to go inward and reduce the clutter and noise of expectations and demands. To sift through what others want from you and get to the essence of who you are, who you want to be, and what you want to do.

Understanding yourself at a deeper level and making decisions based on these insights will make sure that whatever you choose to do next is something that will make you happier, more successful, and more fulfilled.

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Key Questions to Ask Yourself in This Step

What are my core values? Life values typically reflect what is important to you – your priorities. What beliefs, guiding principles, or ideas are fundamental to you?
What is the impact I want to have? What are you committed to? How do you want to contribute or add value? How do you want to help or serve? How will others – your company, community, or world – be positively impacted because of you?
What are my passions? What do you love? What interests you? What gets you engaged, motivated, or excited?
What are my skills and talents? These might be tangible items (H.R. or consulting skills) or more intangible (listening, empathy, navigating politically sensitive situations). List everything that comes to mind, and then highlight the ones you would like to APPLY in this next phase. You may have many skills but don’t necessarily want to use them as you go forward.
What is on my wish list? What do you want and need in your career and next stage of life? What kind of workplace environment does that look like? What kind of people do you want to be around? What kind of flexibility do you want? What will make you thrive? Identify which of these are most important to you.

Brainstorm and Write the Following

I feel happy when…
I feel proud when…
I feel stressed when…
I feel excited when…
I feel valued when…
I feel fulfilled when…

As you reflect on your answers to these questions, are there any themes you can see that string throughout each of these items? What’s the overall essence or feeling you get reading it? Are there any keywords or phrases that stand out to you?

Step 3: Identity the Possibilities

In this step, your first goal is to brainstorm everything that might be possible. This is not about the right choice, but about allowing your creative mind to expand and see opportunities you may not have seen before.

We often dive straight into finding the right one and eliminate anything that doesn’t feel perfect. However, by expanding your options, you may discover something you hadn’t seen before or something you discredited because it wasn’t right.

Here are some possibilities that my clients have considered this year. Do any of these feel like what you’re looking for?

Perhaps you’re looking for a complete overhaul of your career – a job in a new industry or starting your own business.
Maybe you’re looking for a similar role, but with another company or industry that better aligns with who you are or want to be.
Maybe you realize that you’d like to stay in the same organization, but you’re looking to try a different role.
What if you love the company AND your role, but need a new challenge or heart-to-heart with your boss about what’s working and what’s not? Sometimes that’s the simplest and best choice, but just needs to be explored.

Consider ALL your options and write them down. Nothing is off limits…yet!

Which options do you feel compelled by? Drawn to? Which feel most natural? Go where the energy is. Cross off any options that you know aren’t a great fit right now and circle the 2-3 options you feel and think could be best.

Step 4: Open the Door

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s time to explore them in greater depth. The point is to explore what’s behind each (door) option. The more you can visualize and experience what life would be like in each scenario, the more information you have in your arsenal to decide.

Here, you will explore your options in both an intellectual way and an emotional way.

Exploring from an intellectual point of view might include online research, informational interviews with others in that line of work, and looking at required training or qualifications.

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Exploring from an emotional point of view assesses your feelings about this potential new career and life:

Can you see yourself doing this?
What do you feel when you imagine telling a good friend about your job?
What do you notice when you visualize beginning the first day of work?

Trust your instincts and intuition. What are they telling you?

Allow yourself to let go of the whys, have tos, and shoulds to connect with your subconscious. Get to the depths of what resonates as the best choice for you.

Have fun with this step – it’s often surprising what comes up!

Step 5: Bring it all to LIFE!

Okay, friends, it’s decision time! Once you’ve narrowed down and explored your options, it’s time to commit to something. I know this part is tricky. What if it isn’t right? What if there is something else out there? What if it’s the worst decision I ever make? Arrgghh!

These are all real and good questions, but not if they stop you from moving forward.

Consider this: If you know you need to take the next step and you know you’re unhappy where you are, what is the bigger risk? Staying where you are out of fear OR taking the next step and seeing where it leads?

“It’s better to rock the boat than to die sinking in it.”

You’ll inherently know the best option because it will be the one that feels most right or natural. It’s the one that gives you a sense of excitement or energy. It’s the one that you feel drawn to or even pulled by. That doesn’t mean you won’t be scared – you will likely still have fears and worries about this move. That’s alright!

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A big challenge here is not to do what you think you should do or what others believe will be best for you. Given your circumstances and the work you’ve done in the prior steps, what do you believe is best for your future?

Remember, every step you take will bring you closer to where you want to be. Make each one count.

Final Thoughts

This is not about the rest of your life. This is about what’s next, at this stage of your life and career. I see many people paralyzed by thinking they must work everything out for the rest of their lives. Of course that’s stressful and overwhelming! Plus, it’s just not realistic or practical.

The average person changes jobs 10-15 times during their career and people change careers anywhere from 3-7 times throughout their lifetime.

My grandfather always said, “A path leads to a path.”

But you must start walking. You won’t know what you want to do or how it will look until you start exploring. So start somewhere, start anywhere, and it will lead you to your next.

You have to DO something. This is not a passive process; change takes action. Schedule time to reflect on these questions and work through this process. If you’ve read this far into the article, you are clearly seeking some form of change and your wheels may be turning. Lean into that! Challenge yourself – but enjoy it, too.

Twenty years for now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by those you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover. – Mark Twain

When you look back in five, ten, or twenty years, what will you wish you had done?

You are awesome. You might be feeling stuck, low, frustrated, and down on yourself. Or you may just have that fresh spark to change directions! Either way, you are awesome. You are courageous.

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You have everything you need inside you to be successful in whatever you decide to pursue. I’m not saying you won’t have fears or doubts – those are normal. But you can do this. You can make this change. Regardless of what someone else has told you or whatever self-doubt you’re experiencing, you’ve got this.

Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com