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How to Figure Out the Next Step in Your Career

Feeling stuck in a career or stagnant in your current workplace is no way to go through your professional life. Unfortunately, this can be an all-too-common occurrence across the professional landscape. Instead of turning on cruise control and just settling, or lunging prematurely at the next position, take time to evaluate and re-evaluate before determining the next step in your career.

So how exactly can you figure out what that next step is?

Fast-Forward your Story

Travel into the future and envision yourself in full retirement mode. Wherever you think that will take you, whatever the environment will be, put yourself there.

Now, ask yourself a couple of career-focused questions.

  • What am I most proud of?
  • What would I have done differently if I could do it all over again?
  • What would I tell my younger self?
  • What moment made me feel most fulfilled?

Write down what you hope your answers would be. Now go back to the present day. With the end in mind, take that insight as the starting point of figuring out what your next step should be.

Turn the Energy Up

Not every job has you springing out of bed in the morning singing as you pack your work bag and dancing around like you’re an extra in La La Land. Make a list of the responsibilities you have in your current role and everything that is impacted by your career. This list can include something as simple as a specific thing you do in the role itself to what your commute consists of.  Now, draw a plus sign next to the ones that energize you, and a minus sign next to the ones that drain you. Going through this activity gives you a better idea of what the positives are in your current situation and allows you to focus on those when looking at your next landing spot. On the flip side, you can see the negatives in black and white, which allows you to make sure the next step doesn’t lead to a list of drainers.

Make a Pros/Cons List

Speaking of lists…this is a practice we’ve all heard of and even spans outside of the professional world (personal relationships, anyone?) For our case, we will keep this specific to a career evaluation. It isn’t enough to just get into the list and start segmenting the pros and cons without establishing your goal first. What is it that your next career move needs to provide? Flexibility, a higher salary, stability, something less laborious physically? Determine that and then create your pros/cons list.

Dream Then Research

Don’t be afraid to consider what your dreams are when it comes to your career. You deserve to acknowledge where your passions lie and contemplate those possibilities. It might seem overwhelming if that dream leads to pursuing something new, but that’s where researching the option will give you a logical approach to determining if that’s the next best step. Speak to people who are in the types of roles you’re interested in. The information they provide can make it easier to understand if this “dream” position would be a good fit for you.

It’s good to start with the end in mind, but you don’t need to have everything figured out right away. Channel your inner What About Bob and take baby steps.

Do you feel stuck in your career or have any tips for those who might be? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out how you should weigh the risks when choosing your first job here.