December brings the holidays and social time with co-workers, friends and family. It’s also a good time to take stock and reflect on your work and career. Two years ago at this time I planned my next chapter and decided to leave a permanent CIO position. My two goals were to live where I wanted to live and have more flexibility in my career.
I talk with a lot of people at different stages of their career who are taking stock and trying to figure out their choices.
They may be in their 30’s, relatively young in their career, and thinking about the next right move and where that would position them for the long run.
Or, they may be someone in their 50’s or early 60’s and thinking about how long they want to work and the one final job change that might make the capstone to their career.
Or, they may be someone who has made the decision to “retire”, but not quite yet. They are considering what kind of work they still want to do, and how much.
For people in that last group, I ask them to think about 3 questions:
- What do you want to do? After all, what you are good at and enjoy the most?
- How much do you want to work? If you’ve been working 60+ hours a week at a demanding job, it’s time to consider how much time you want for yourself, your family, your other passions and hobbies.
- What do you need financially? There are 3 ways to look at it: continue at roughly the same income level and continue contributing to your retirement, make enough to live on but not contribute any further to retirement, or start drawing on your retirement savings.
Until you ask and answer these important questions, it’s hard to make a solid plan.
For people younger in their career, these questions still apply. But there are others:
- You may be concerned about child care costs and buying your first house so financial considerations are key. You may want flexibility and good work life balance.
- What kind of organization do you want to work for and what kind of work do you want to do? Some questions to ask yourself:
- Are you in an industry you like and that has strong growth prospects?
- Are you challenged enough in your work?
- Are you making a difference and able to live your values in the work you do?
- Is the culture of your organization one that you thrive in?
- Are you ready to be an entrepreneur and go on your own?
A new year brings a job change for many people. But don’t jump into a change without reflecting and knowing what’s important to you.
Last December, I wrote a similar post called “Time for a job change?”. I laid out even more specific questions to ask yourself. I closed with that piece of advice I often give: “always remember, you own your own career and be open to the possibilities”.