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10 Important Questions To Ask Yourself To Determine The Next Step In Your Career

10 Important Questions To Ask Yourself To Determine The Next Step In Your Career

Advancing in your career is not an automatic path. You need to be actively pushing yourself forward in order to make sure you don’t stagnate and lose momentum. Forward progression can come in the form of additional training, a promotion, or moving into a new sector entirely. 

Knowing which move is the right one for you can be incredibly difficult. This is why a healthy dose of self-reflection is essential for knowing what you want out of the next stage in your career.

If you’re at a turning point in your career and questioning your next steps, look no further. The following questions will help you to examine your current position, enabling you to be honest about where you are and where you want to be. And from there, determine what will bring you true happiness in your career and how best to formulate a plan for your next move.

1. What are my long-term career goals, and does my current position align with them?

Your career goals can change over time, so now is a good time to check in with yourself and see where your current goals lie. Think about what you wanted to do when you first started your career and how this might have evolved as you have gained more experience.

You also need to engage in some brutal honesty about whether or not your current career path is helping or hindering your development. Are you on the right track or do you need to pivot in order to stay on the right course?

2. What skills or experiences do I need to develop to progress in my desired career path?

Leaving university isn’t the end of your opportunity to learn new things. Lifelong learning is an essential part of career development, so ask yourself if you have the skills and experience you need to take the next steps.

If you are holding back because you don’t feel confident in a particular area, ask yourself if this is something that could change with a bit of training. It could be training in an entirely new area, or it could be topping up and reaffirming the experience you already have.

3. Am I feeling challenged and fulfilled in my current role, or do I crave new opportunities and growth?

When you get home at the end of a long day, do you feel content with where you are? Be honest with yourself about how you feel about your role and if it is filling you up or draining you. 

If you aren’t truly happy with the direction your career is heading in, you may find that everyday occurrences drain your lifeforce. On the other hand, if you find your role to be very fulfilling, your day to day work could be helping you to feel buoyant in all aspects of your life.

4. Have I explored all potential advancement opportunities within my current organisation?

Before you decide that you need to move to a new company, ask yourself if you have truly depleted all opportunities within your current organisation. Staying with the same company offers some key benefits. Working in a familiar environment with people you know and trust can help to bolster your confidence.

However, it can become stifling over time and you might find that you are missing out on key opportunities by staying with the same company. You could become comfortable and complacent, and this can get in the way of your career development. If you don’t feel like your current organisation can challenge you anymore, it could be time for new horizons. 

5. How does my current job fit into my overall life goals and priorities?

Your life is about so much more than your work. How does your current role support the life you want to lead? Does it get in the way of other priorities in your life? This can be a difficult question to face, as it forces you to confront whether or not your current job is sustainable. No one can stay in a role that forces them to neglect their other priorities and suppress their life goals. 

6. Am I leveraging my strengths and passions effectively in my current role?

Your strengths can change over time, so make sure you regularly assess where your strengths lie and if you are getting the chance to put them to good use. An example of this would be an individual with a passion for leadership who is pushed into a role that does not allow them to flex this particular proficiency. While you might be able to focus on other strengths for a while, if leadership is something that you are truly passionate about, you can’t ignore this forever. You will eventually find that you find your role less and less fulfilling if you aren’t able to explore your passions.

7. What industries or sectors am I interested in exploring further, and what steps can I take to enter those fields?

Your career move doesn’t have to be a step up – you can also step sideways. Instead of looking for the big promotion, you might choose to look for a similar role in a different industry. This may enable you to broaden your horizons and learn about other sectors that may have previously been a bit of a mystery to you. 

8. Have I sought feedback from mentors, colleagues, or industry professionals on potential career directions?

We often don’t know ourselves as well as we like to think we do. This is why feedback from mentors and colleagues can be so valuable. The people that manage you and work alongside you will gain a unique insight into your strengths and values. Ask for their feedback before making any big career moves, as they might be able to offer unique perspectives you haven’t considered before.

9. How do I define success in my career, and does my current trajectory align with this definition?

Everyone has a different definition of success, and it’s vital that you stay true to your own version of what success looks like. Some people value monetary rewards, while others place more value on the concept of doing work that has a wider impact. Be honest with yourself about what success looks like and decide if you are on the right path to achieve this.

10. What sacrifices, if any, am I willing to make to pursue my desired career path, and how can I mitigate potential risks?

Before making any big changes in your career, you need to determine what you are willing to give up in order to achieve success. Not everyone is career driven and they are happy to get to a point where they are comfortable. But others want to hit goals and targets.

 If you are goal oriented, ask yourself how much you are willing to sacrifice to get there. Are you willing to relocate? Could you take a pay cut in order to achieve your dreams? You also need to check if you have a backup plan if your career path doesn’t work out as expected. 

Closing thoughts

Through honest reflection, you can determine the ideal career path for you and decide what should be your next move. Staying still is also an option, but if you decide you have unfulfilled career ambitions, these questions will help you to decide what they are and how to achieve them.