Career Transition Decision Making and Values Clarification

A person standing at a fork in the roadLet’s say you reach a fork in the road and have to decide which way to go on your career journey. This is naturally a difficult place to be, but you have to make a decision.

Values clarification becomes indispensable when you are at a point where you must choose between two or more career options, but you’re uncertain which option is best.

At such times, you must ask yourself this question:

What are my most important career values?

The rub is that when you choose one option, you leave behind values connected with your alternate option. The trick is to be certain that in the end you choose the option that is most closely identified with your top values.

For example, I recently spoke with a graphic artist employed by a small publishing company. The key to his career success has been his mentor relationship with the soon to retire company president. He already knew that he did not want to work with the incoming president. He was paralyzed, however, to choose between his two remaining options: Move to a new company where he feels positive about the executive leadership, or start up his own business?

What to do? Make sure you clarify your career values in order to make your decision with confidence.

First, under each option list your top 3 to 5 values or benefits to you of each. In this case:

Option One

  • Opportunity to work with new mentor
  • Company takes care of marketing and sales
  • Regular paycheck
  • Medical benefits and 401K

Option Two

  • He chooses which projects he takes on
  • Artistic freedom
  • Gets all profits from his work
  • Can flexibly schedule his work day

Here’s the challenging part, now rank your top five values drawing from both lists. After several go rounds and some major soul searching, this individual ranked his top five values:

  1. Opportunity to work with new mentor
  2. Company handles marketing and sales
  3. He chooses which projects he takes on
  4. Regular paycheck
  5. Artistic freedom

You can see that the majority of his values including his top two values, are from list one. Although choosing which projects he takes on is important, when push came to shove, he ranked it lower than the opportunity to work with a new mentor and not having to do marketing and sales.

After taking a step back and carefully considering his competing values, this individual chose option one.

When facing this kind of difficult choice, the above systematic decision process insures that you make the best decision for YOU.

© 2016, Seth Kaufman, Psy.D., Certified Career Coach at
All rights reserved. Reproduction or distribution of this article allowed only when credited to its author.

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