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April 4, 2023

How To Navigate A Fork In Your Career Path

Career decisions are some of the most significant and challenging choices we make in our lives. When faced with a career fork in the road, it can be difficult to know which path to take. While some individuals may find it easy to navigate such a decision, others may struggle with the uncertainty of what […]

Career decisions are some of the most significant and challenging choices we make in our lives. When faced with a career fork in the road, it can be difficult to know which path to take.

While some individuals may find it easy to navigate such a decision, others may struggle with the uncertainty of what lies ahead. Furthermore, if the decision turns out to be the wrong one, it can be challenging to live with the consequences.

To help, a panel of Forbes Human Resources Council members outlines some steps that individuals can take to navigate a potential career change and how they can cope with the outcomes, whether positive or negative.

1. Pretend You've Made The Decision

My advice centers around using head, heart and gut in navigating career forks. We live in a head-centric world so it takes work to listen to hearts and guts. One exercise I suggest is to go to bed imagining you made the choice. Get dressed in the morning like it's real. Eat breakfast like it's real. Immerse yourself in this imagined reality. What feelings come to you? What are they telling you? - Heather KirkbyRecursion

2. Determine What You're Passionate About

Consider it an opportunity, not a problem. Some of the greatest career accomplishments come from a fork in the road. Use the opportunity to ask questions about what you need from your career, what gives you passion and how can you use this change to make a longer-term transition. Also, reach out to your network to talk about your situation and ask for their advice. - Debby RouttMarathon Health

3. Try Not To Consider The Money

Deprioritize money as the sole motivation. Identify your true purpose, potential and values for your life. After that, research a company's purpose, potential and values. Look at the pros and cons to understand the proximity for a match or potential future match. Once hired, don't give up right away if it's hard. Sometimes your ideal match needs hard work and puzzle pieces to come together. - David AlsopUltradent Products, Inc.

4. Speak With Other Professionals

A good method is to create a pros and cons list for each option. This allows you to assess the benefits and drawbacks of each objectively to make a well-informed decision. Job shadowing or grabbing coffee with other professionals are great ways to see if you are a good fit for a different career and get a better understanding of the responsibilities and growth opportunities. - William StonehouseCrawford Thomas Recruiting

Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries. Do I qualify?

5. Learn From Wrong Experiences

Any decision, including a career change or pivot, is personal. The right decision embraces growth, learning, network expansion and new experiences toward career and life. Wrong decisions are also personal and painful and I'm always focusing on what I can learn about myself and what people I meet and change along the way. - Nick FreyAvomind

6. Collect Data To Make Your Decision

A career fork in the road presents an opportunity to improve life. There is no formula for right and wrong choices. The best choice is an informed one. Collect data to inform the decision and take note of passion in your gut. After you've made the change, if you decide it likely wasn't your best choice, then seek to find learning so the next opportunity presents improved odds of bringing glory. - Laci LoewXpertHR (a division of LexisNexis)

7. Evaluate Your Passions

Navigating a career change requires passion, resilience and patience. Start by evaluating your passions. What makes you go the extra mile? Join a premier organization in the newly selected field, focusing on learning your new role's fundamentals. It takes resilience to master anything, and some patience lets it grow. After that, you knew you did your best. - Elisabetta BartoloniHeidrick & Struggles

8. Don't Make A Quick Decision

Take some time and avoid making a rash decision. Go for a hike, meditate, talk things through with a friend—whatever works for you; but think through what you really want, and what your career vision looks like. If you later feel you made the wrong choice, seek opportunities to explore the unchosen career path. If you like it, build your skill set and experience so you can revisit it over time. - Lisa ShusteriHire

9. Do Plenty Of Research

You can build confidence in making the right decision by doing as much research as possible. Speak to experts or people who can weigh on what their outcomes were. Ultimately you have to make that decision based on research and your instinct. If this turns out to be wrong you have now progressed in determining the option isn’t the right one. As the saying goes, You never lose—you win or you learn. - Tiersa Smith-HallImpactful Imprints, Training & Consulting

10. Visualize Your Future

It's impossible to know the future, but you can certainly think about it by weighing in all of the factors that you know into the equation and visualizing what that looks like for you. Plan accordingly by reading what others are saying about the career or job and to those who have had a similar experience. It's not easy or pleasant sometimes, but making an informed decision is best. - Omar AlhadiAdobe Care and Wellness

11. Listen To Your Instincts

Base your decision on the information available to you. Assess the pros and cons, think critically and listen to your instinct. Experience is never a wrong decision. Learning what you do not want is as important as knowing what you do. You will not know the water temperature until you jump in. Every position has its advantages. Find them and learn from them. - Patricia SharkeySharkey HR Consulting, LLC

12. Consider Seeking Out A New Position

There is no single right path in any career, but a list of the pros and cons of each option can help clarify thinking and help professionals reflect on which feels more aligned with their goals and values. If the decision later feels like the wrong one, consider reaching back out to the other option, bringing any issues to the human resources department or seeking out a new position entirely. - Niki JorgensenInsperity

13. Embrace The Decision You Make

Career forks are part of the journey. Creating an "as is/to be" matrix and aligning that with your goals will give you the story to tell about your choices and your journey. Sometimes what is right at the time turns out to not be and then we look at the learning journey we are on. There is no "wrong" decision, there is only the journey and how that strengthens our skills in the long run. - Julie HankinsNNIT

14. View Changes As Stepping Stones

When you find yourself approaching a career change that feels like it may have been a mistake, frame it as a stepping stone in the direction you need to go. Remember your initial reasons for the decision and move forward with your next change until you reach your goal. If you truly feel professionally unfulfilled, making a change will inevitably be better than staying where you are. - Laura SpawnVirtual Vocations, Inc.

15. Speak To A Mentor

Draw wisdom and experience from people who know better than you. Speak to your mentor as it allows you to see the hope inside yourself and to awaken the ability to withstand or course-correct as deemed fit. Not denying the fact, It's essential to weigh the pros and cons of each option carefully, considering factors such as your role, work-life balance and the potential for growth, and then review alignment with your values and interests. - Raj TanwarAdvantage Club Technologies Private Limited

Article written by:  Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family. Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.
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