4 Questions To Ask Yourself To Prevent Making Big Mistakes In Your Career
by Brent Roy
To prevent making big mistakes in your career, it’s vitally important to periodically assess your values and principles. Chances are, when you’re feeling out of sorts in your work environment, there’s a misalignment between your values and those of your employer. If you fail to address this misalignment, you could be on the path to burnout. When you’re clear on your own values, it makes it easier for you to assess your situation and decide whether to challenge it, accept it or leave it.
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself to prevent making big mistakes in your career:
Start by determining whether you love your work and whether it aligns with your values. After that, list the pros and cons of staying or plying your trade elsewhere.
Do I really love what I am doing?
If you do love your work, you actually look forward to Mondays. You enjoy being with your coworkers. Time at work seems to fly by, since you hardly ever look at the clock.
You’re able to make the connection between the purpose of your work and the excitement that comes with knowing it impacts your customer.
You feel supported by your leadership. You have a best friend at work. These are among the factors that would indicate you are happy with your current work situation.
What are my values and are they aligned with my current role?
To prevent making big mistakes in your career, it’s important to be clear on what your values really are. When asked, most people are unable to list their values. Often, a way to discover what your values are is when other ignore or discredit one or more of them. If that makes you angered or irritated, it’s a sign it’s one of your values.
For example, your boss may ask you to work late more often than normal. This bothers you because it’s taking away from time with your wife and children. Your value family time and your work is infringing on this. Work-life balance could also be a value.
How to find your values
You can find a list of values or do an assessment, but try to find your top five values. Once you have them, rate them in order of importance. How willing are you to temporarily sacrifice one or two of them? Which one or two are non-negotiable? Knowing this can prevent you from making big mistakes in your career.
Now, think about your values in relation to those of your employer. Do yours and theirs align? If they don’t, it could be a sign to begin looking elsewhere.
What have I got to lose if I leave?
To avoid making big mistakes in your career, first take an inventory of both your pros and cons before you decide to leave your current role. Think about where you are now and what you will be giving up if you leave.
Give some thought about the financial aspect, such as salary, bonuses, stock options and other benefits like health insurance.
Consider the culture, which is really how the company lives its stated values. If you highly value autonomy or creativity and your boss micromanages you, how long are you willing to stay in that stifling environment?
The fact that you’re asking means you’re not sure yet. What would it feel like if you left that negativity behind?
What do I stand to gain if I stay?
If you’ve been with your organization for a while, you may have more reasons to stay than to think about moving on. On the other hand, it is quite possible that you, your role and the organization have changed in many ways since you started there.
In short, it pays to spend some time giving your career situation some thought. Why? Because, companies with diminishing profits still resort to staff reductions and layoffs. Many people are shocked and unprepared when it happens to them. If you were to receive a layoff notice, how ready would you be?
If you’re truly happy with your work, your work culture and your employer’s values align well, staying put for now might be your best choice. Ultimately, it’s always a good idea to reassess your current career situation.
It will either give you a renewed sense of peace and purpose or the motivation to prepare yourself for a transition. In the long run, taking the time to ask yourself these four important questions will prevent you from making big mistakes in your career.
(I wrote this original article for YourTango. It was published there on December 12, 2023 as “The One Trait Shared By People Who Absolutely Love Their Jobs.”
Brent Roy, PCC, CPLC, CMC, is a certified executive, career and personal development coach, and mentor coach. I work with men and women who want to increase their confidence and boost their executive presence to prepare them for promotion or a new career. For more ways I can help, please reach out!