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Making Better Career Decisions: A 5-Step Framework

Making decisions can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to career choices. With so many factors to consider and various stakeholders involved, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and uncertain. However, by following a structured framework, you can simplify the process and make informed decisions that align with your values and goals.

Today we will explore a 5-step framework to help you make better career decisions.

Step 1: What are your feelings telling you?

The first step in making better career decisions is to understand your feelings about your current job or the career path you're considering. Take some time to reflect on your emotions and jot down different careers that come to mind. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What are the things I enjoy doing the most in my current job?

  • Are there any tasks or responsibilities that I find unfulfilling or uninteresting?

  • What are my long-term career goals, and do they align with my current job?

By examining your feelings, you'll get a better understanding of what you want and don't want in a career. This information will help you narrow down your options and focus on careers that align with your interests and aspirations.

Step 2: What matters to you?

Understanding your values is crucial in making career decisions that align with your personal and professional goals. Take a psychological assessment or complete an exercise that helps you identify your values. Consider questions like:

  • What motivates me?

  • What do I value most in my work?

  • What kind of work environment do I thrive in?

Once you have a clear understanding of your values, you can use them as a benchmark to evaluate potential career paths. This will help you make choices that are fulfilling and meaningful, rather than just focusing on salary or job title.

Step 3: What matters to other people?

While it's important to prioritize your own values and goals, it's also essential to consider how your career decisions will impact your loved ones. Ask for their thoughts, input, and feelings about your career choices. This will help you:

  • Gain different perspectives and insights

  • Understand how your decisions will affect your personal relationships

  • Make decisions that are beneficial to both you and your loved ones

Step 4: What is the reality of the situation?

It's easy to get caught up in assumptions and misconceptions about certain career paths. However, it's important to be objective and consider the realities of each option. Research the job market, salary ranges, and required skills for each career you're considering. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What are the job prospects and growth opportunities in this field?

  • Is the salary range aligned with my financial goals and expectations?

  • Do I have the necessary skills and qualifications for this career?

By understanding the realities of each career path, you can make informed decisions that are grounded in facts, rather than assumptions.

Step 5: How do I put the pieces together?

Once you've answered the previous four questions, it's time to review all the information you've gathered. Consider how your feelings, values, loved ones' input, and the realities of each career path align. Use this information to make a final decision that aligns with your personal and professional goals.


Making better career decisions requires a structured approach that considers various factors. By following the 5-step framework outlined in this article, you'll be able to:

  • Identify your feelings and values

  • Understand the impact on your loved ones

  • Evaluate the realities of each career path

  • Make informed decisions that align with your goals

Remember, career decisions are personal and can have a significant impact on your life. By taking the time to reflect, research, and evaluate your options, you'll be able to make choices that are fulfilling, meaningful, and aligned with your values.


Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.



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