By refining directions, we mean that you weigh the many different factors, trade-offs, compromises, and work/life issues that could be impacted as a result of your transition. Your goal is to make a reality-based decision about your career future.
By now, you have narrowed your career choices and are grappling with a few popular choices that meet your criteria, your values, and your interests. You need to listen to your “gut” reaction at this point, but not to the point that you overlook a systematic evaluation process. By using a systematic approach, you embrace objectivity and make sure that you do not miss anything important.
Coming to terms with a career choice can be a very emotional process. You will feel fear and anxiety about what the future will hold for you. You will be wondering whether you are doing the right thing by walking away from your “old” career or co-workers. It is a natural feeling because – up until today – your whole life has been invested in the job situation that you are about to abandon. It is natural to form attachments to your career, workplace, and colleagues. You will wonder about how you will prepare for your new job or career. You may even experience the little gremlin on your shoulder asking, “Am I doing the right thing?” These are natural reactions to transition. To overcome the emotional dizziness that can be experienced, you will need a formal Career Roadmap.
Now that you have narrowed down your options, it is time to make some tough decisions. You may still feel uncertain about which direction is right for you, or you may feel that two paths are equally appealing, or you may know exactly what you want to do.
If, at this point, you have not chosen a path, you may feel frustrated and hopeless. You may begin to question what you should or should not do. The process of career transition is challenging. It is not in your best interest to be told what career choice is perfect for you. Only you can decide for yourself the perfect career match. However, try to identify themes in your thinking that may help the decision process.
If you know exactly what you want to do, you may have a strong sense of urgency to begin the transition process. You will want to jump in with two feet, and change your life immediately. It is important not to move too quickly, because you need time to adapt, and so do your loved ones. The change process not only impacts you, but also your family, friends and co-workers. It is important to have a plan so that you know where you are going and how to get there.
During this time it is important that you systematically weigh the many different factors, trade-offs, compromises and work/life issues that could arise with each of your career choices. As mentioned earlier, you need to assess work characteristics such as skills, salary, and flex time. You will need to determine how much time you are willing to commit to the new career directions. By investing time to your transition, you will take time away from something else. This could be your current job, your family, or personal time.
Sort and sift through all of the information you have collected during your research. It is now time to analyze how all of the information from your sources fit together. Begin by reviewing the profiles and your notes about the industry, job trends, and informational interviews for each occupation. On the next page, highlight the positive (pros) and negative (cons) of each occupation, reviewing likes and dislikes of job requirements and discussing issues and concerns with respect to skills, qualifications, timing and abilities.
Your Homework: Balancing Career Choices
Use this section to highlight the positives, negatives, and issues related to your top three career choices. Make mention of professional (compensation, work environment) and personal (impact on a spouse, finances, social life) effects in the exercise below. You should also mention what other information is needed to make a decision.