Evaluating Your Career Path: Is Now The Right Time?

(By Cynthia Hutchison)

I guess I just needed someone to tell me it was OK to slow down and enjoy the ride; to take time to reflect and evaluate the process, and not just focus on the end goal. I realized I could still have it all…just maybe not all at once. So then how do you know when the right time is? Is there a right time or a wrong time to make a move in your career? To answer these questions, I found I had to ask myself a few more.

My oldest son just started Kindergarten; my youngest is in preschool three days a week. I am fortunate that my husband is a stay-at-home dad, so he takes care of managing the craziness of our household very well. Things seem to be clicking along at a good pace. My kids are falling into more of a routine and have a steady support system at home, which gives me more time to reflect on myself, and more to the point…my career path.

Several years ago I was very focused on my career, when out of the blue, my life changed. I met a wonderful man, got married, and had two kids. Whew, did my priorities shift over those five years! My career had always been my number one priority and a big part of how I defined myself, but let’s face it, as my total responsibilities grew, I didn’t know how to juggle it all especially because I wanted it all! And most of us feel the same way, but unless you are willing to forgo a lot of sleep, we all have to give somewhere.

I was lucky to have a really great manager during this very stressful time in my life who said to me, “Cynthia, your career will ebb and flow; it’s not bad it’s just how the ride goes.” This was a lightbulb moment for me. If your lightbulb hasn’t gone off yet, picture a rollercoaster. There is a lot of excitement and anticipation on the way up, but if you never go down, you really don’t experience the whole thrill of the ride. You don’t always have to be moving forward or up to be going in the right direction. If you’re always trying to be on top, it’s much easier to fall.

I guess I just needed someone to tell me it was OK to slow down and enjoy the ride; to take time to reflect and evaluate the process, and not just focus on the end goal. I realized I could still have it all…just maybe not all at once. So then how do you know when the right time is? Is there a right time or a wrong time to make a move in your career? To answer these questions, I found I had to ask myself a few more:

  • Is it a good time for me personally/for my family?

  • Is it a good time in the company?

  • How happy am I in my current position?

Sometimes the right opportunity can come along, but it just isn’t the right time in your personal life, or maybe it isn’t a good time in the economy. You have to evaluate, prioritize, adapt, and make choices. And remember, it is OK to say no to a new opportunity if the timing doesn’t seem right. Choices can be tough, but we need to make them and move on because another one is likely waiting right around the corner.

As employees and as parents, we often think about our choices, our priorities, and how we maintain balance in our lives. But these priorities are far from stagnant. They are ever-changing in the lifecycle of our families and our careers. As our kids grow, our parents age, our health or our life changes, we have to change what takes a front seat and what we put in the trunk!

So make yourself a recurring appointment a few times a year to reflect on where you are and where you want to go both professionally and personally, and whether the time is right to make a move. Regardless of where you’re headed, remember to enjoy the journey…not just the destination!

(Source: Citibank)

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