Are You Wondering If You Should Change Careers? 

It can be a risky shift, but so worth it to find an occupation which aligns with your values. 

I recently coached a client repositioning their career to a new organization. They held a senior level position in a toxic work environment for too long, and were ready for a healthy change. Their immediate concern, understandably, was missing a bonus that they had worked hard to receive. What if their new job required them to start before this bonus payout? Was it worth it to stay in an unhealthy workplace a little longer? 

I encouraged them to play the long game in this situation. My advice to the client was to not even put the bonus in the equation. Moving forward to a healthy work environment and a more whole self cannot be valued highly enough. I encouraged them to play the long game because I want my clients to thrive in their lives and live a balanced lifestyle. Playing the long game requires you to find your voice and affirm your values, even when it is difficult. If you can clarify your values, this will help to guide your decisions and actions over the long term. 

Erik Larson recently published an article in Forbes magazine which offers a simple and helpful way to clarify your values and use them to guide your career decisions. Here is the method he taught: 

Step one: Write down your top five personal values (i.e. creativity, wealth, relationships, learning, etc.), and rank them in order of importance.

Step two: Assign each value with a ranking 1-10 according to how well your current job fits the personal value (1 being not at all, 10 being perfectly). 

Step three: Multiply each rating by 1/its rank number, then add the scores up and divide by two. (It’s easier than it sounds. Take a look at the example chart below.) 

Step four: Repeat these steps according to the other jobs you are considering. Larson says to be careful when you are comparing the numeral results– don’t let a number be your answer immediately. Consider how the results of this exercise make you feel about your job options.  

There are so many excuses we use to stay with a company that is not a good match for us– a pending bonus, benefits, vacation time, etc. Any one of these perks can change in a company at the drop of a hat, and all of these are negotiable moving forward. Your values, however, must be steady. Base your career decisions off of what is constant, not what is trivial or subject to change. 

The decision to reposition your career can be scary. When faced with crises we tend to react rather than respond. We often make a quick decision or freeze and make no decision at all. In order to help you stay responsive during times of crisis, fear, or anxiety, evaluate how you react and how you respond.

Reacting can sound like this:

“I’ll stay with the company for stability even though the company could experience layoffs and reorganization.”

“I’ll stay with the company because the market seems uncertain even though new disruptive companies are up and coming.”

“I’ll stay with the company because I’ve been promised a promotion.”

While responding sounds like this:

“Although my current company is stable, I’m looking for future growth opportunities that may lead me outside of the organization.”

“The market seems uncertain, but I can see new opportunities.”

“I could stay and receive a promised promotion, but I have the possibility of more influence in a smaller organization.”

Now is the perfect time to work on responding rather than reacting. No matter what your situation, stick to your values. They will guide you into fulfilling work and a healthy lifestyle. Make a smart choice with a plan, and don’t be afraid to take a measured risk!