What would you advise a young professional to do before taking the next career step?

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There is no need to make hasty decisions!

What would you advise a young professional to do before taking the next career step?

Stop and think: These are the most important considerations to be made

The way we view our career is different for each individual person. The word ‘career’ has many definitions and can mean various things, but one of the fundamental building blocks when developing ourselves professionally is the concept of ‘PURPOSE’. What we do and how we do it has a significance, above all for ourselves.

How we approach our career or our professional career path often strongly depends on our basic attitude. What is our motivation and what are we trying to achieve for our life and satisfaction level? ‘PURPOSE’ therefore answers the personal question ‘WHY?’.

So when we start to think about the next step in our career, it is a good time to contemplate our inner attitude: in our head, heart and stomach. What do we want to achieve? What is our motivation for this step? In such a situation, it’s a good idea to create a list with all the ‘PUSH’- and ‘PULL’- factors that encourage us to take the next step. This means trying to eliminate all factors that push us away from our current situation (‘PUSH’) and instead to seize opportunities which pull us towards a new attractive position or life situation (‘PULL’).

Regardless of which list is longer – the one with the ‘PUSH’ factors or the one with the ‘PULL’ factors, both can make us want to get out of our current situation. ‘PUSH’ factors usually have something to do with ourselves, whereas ‘PULL’ factors can vary depending on an individual’s life situation. This means that the choice of our personal goal depends on our reflection of our basic attitude and motivation. A apparent ‘step backwards’ can equally well be in the desired direction.

In order to align our head with our heart and ideally also with our gut feeling, it is often helpful to talk to someone and to reflect openly. The goal is not really about getting someone else’s opinions as each person has their own individual interests. It should preferably be professional help, someone who gets us to think and to reflect, without conditions or fear of judgment and who in this way guides us to align our head, heart and stomach.

As so-called ‘young professionals’, we are often under pressure to make quick decisions. We are often impressed when our (professional) idols, executives, or any kind of role model, are able to make the right decisions by gut feeling, often in a split second. Reality check: they don’t do this and we don’t have to make hasty decisions either, especially not when it’s about our own life.

Reflect, think about the next step, (get to) know your own motivation, focus, talk to someone. In the simplest form, these are the basic building blocks for the next step in your career.

Christoph Raudonat

Head of Henley Business School Germany