I’m not a fan of soul searching. To me, it conjures up images of sitting cross-legged in front of a vision board, probably doing yoga and drinking tea—all of which is very not my style. That’s not to say there isn’t value in doing any of those things, but I’ve always tended to be more impulsive and less thoughtful, taking on life with an almost concerning lack of planning, a deep anxiety caused by said lack of planning, and not nearly enough patience to practice yoga.
I’ve worked as a cook, a food runner, a tutor, a dog walker, a social media intern, a marketing copywriter, and a whole lot more, bouncing around from job to job, trying to find something that made me feel like I had more of a purpose than just making enough money to pay the bills. It wasn’t until recently that I reignited my job search, sparked by a growing dissatisfaction with my professional life.
Of course, moving to a new job is a huge risk, and the last thing you want is a repeat of the same circumstances that were so dissatisfying, which means lots of thoughtful reflection, planning, and consideration before making any big decisions. After months of searching and a few weeks of contemplating, I finally accepted a new position—one that I’m excited about for the first time in a long time, and I likely wouldn’t have taken it without doing a little soul searching first...albeit begrudgingly, initially.
If you’re looking to make a career change or start your professional journey, here are a few of the soul searching career questions that helped me think over my options. Take out a pen and paper or type out a stream of consciousness, and do some much-needed reflecting!
What do I actually care about?
Do you want to be working for a company that gives back to the community? Do you want an employer that shares your personal values? Is it important for you to feel like your opinions are heard? Or are you more focused on professional growth? Would you like a position that allows you to learn new skills and offers upward mobility?
Take some time to think about what’s important to you—both personally and professionally. After all, we spend a large portion of our lives at work, so our career has a way of seeping into our personal lives. That’s why it helps to actually be excited about what your career has to offer and to like the company and people you’re working for and with.
What are my priorities now and for the future?
Soul searching is about what you need now and what you can do now to set yourself up for success in the future.
How might your personal life change? Are you looking for a position that would allow you to travel? A company where you can move up the ladder and make more money? Will the risk be worth leaving your current position?
It doesn’t have to be set in stone, but consider planning out a timeline for the next five years or even 10 years of your life. How does your career align with your goals? What will 10-years-from-now you wish that current you had done?
What are my deal-breakers?
Salary, benefits, time off, commute—figure out what’s negotiable for you and what’s set in stone. Say you get an offer for a job that checks off all your boxes...but pays significantly less than your current position. Or you’re offered a position that pays much more than what you get now...but it’s not at a company whose mission you believe in.
Know what you’re compromising before you sign. Hopefully you’ll be able to use what you learned in your last position to figure out what you absolutely need in a new job, and what you’re willing to be flexible on. Knowing what can be compromised will save you time and hand wringing down the road.