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Common Career Regrets: How to Move Forward

Have you ever made a choice in your career that you later regret?

Some of the most common career regrets are:

  • I wish I hadn’t taken the job for the money.
  • I wish I had tried for more fulfillment.
  • I wish I had quit sooner.
  • I wish I had taken more risk.

If you have ever had one of these career regrets, you are not alone. In fact, a recent study showed that 32% of Americans regret major life choices, such as their profession and employer. Does this mean that you are stuck with the past choices you made? No! Here are a few steps to help you learn from your regrets and make better choices moving forward:

Align your goals with what is most fulfilling to you. Fulfillment is the cornerstone of a successful career decision. Fulfillment gives you the most clarity about what direction to take and what goals to pursue. This doesn’t mean to throw caution to the wind and not take into consideration other things like salary and practicality. But, if you start with career moves that would be truly fulfilling to you, and then adjust them as necessary, you will have better results. This, in turn, promotes long-term happiness.

In order to determine what would be fulfilling to you personally, there are two important factors to take into consideration:

  1. Heart: This deals with passion, enjoyment, sense of meaning and accomplishment. In order to clarify this important factor, ask yourself how you define success. If you struggle to answer this question, consider the following exercise. Think about a peak experience in your life. Identify why it was so special and important to you and write down how it made you feel. Now determine what things you must have in a career to gain a sense of enjoyment. For example, helping people, analyzing data, educating others.
  2. Head: This factor helps you to determine your priorities such as compensation and life balance. Once you have identified your values from your heart, identify what you need to take care of yourself in a practical way to include them in your career. From there you can set goals that you are more likely to work towards since they are based on your values and they are practical.

For example, one of our clients in Atlanta was an unfulfilled corporate in-house lawyer when she came to us. By working with us, she was able to realign her career goals. She remained a lawyer, but moved to a smaller firm with different values. This move matched both her values and her priorities.In her case:

  • Her heart: The value of working with a smaller firm to see a greater impact on clients.
  • Her head: Her priority of making a certain income and leveraging her education.

In order to make sure you are balancing your passion with practicality, try the following:

  • Brainstorm your career goals with a friend or a career coach.
  • Conduct informational interviews with others.
  • Find a mentor.

(If you’d like to learn more about how to get closer to your dream job, get your free copy of our powerful briefing here!)

Before you take that next job – identify your values and priorities so you don’t experience career regret!