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How to Make Tough Career Choices

Updated on Feb 21, 2023 2003 views
How to Make Tough Career Choices

Are you currently at the point in your life where you are trying to decide which way to go in your career?

Do you need to make a decision on what to do with your career?

Are you feeling stuck in your career path and need to make some tough decisions so you can navigate through the next stage?

If you fall into any of these categories, then this article is definitely something you should read. 

At some points in our lives, we need to make tough decisions on which career choices are best for us. 

Sometimes, we even know what we want, but we are not exactly sure how to make these career choices. 

Read through this article and know exactly how to make tough career choices!  


What Is A Career? 

A career is a profession or a particular line of work that someone engages in the course of his life, which can be just one job or multiple related jobs. 

A career also consists of the skills and experiences that make up the work life of an individual. A career does not depend only on one’s educational background because a degree does not define a career. Amazingly, 60% of the jobs between 2020 to 2030 are jobs that do not necessarily require a degree but can still make up a person’s career. So, at the end of the day, a career makes use of one’s skills and talents while providing long-term fulfilment and a sense of purpose. 

Some people confuse a career with a job. Irrespective of the fact that they are related, a job is only a short-term service provided to a company for remuneration in the end. On the other hand, a career is a long-term plan based on one’s passions and goals. Usually, a career requires constant personal and professional development. 


Why Make Tough Career Choices?  

Having to decide between quitting your job or not, or taking this job or that job always comes up during the course of anyone’s career. They are part of the tough choices that come with building a long-term career, irrespective of what it may be. Some people are always tempted to shy away from these decisions because truth be told, they are not always easy choices. So, why make these tough choices anyway? Here are some reasons you must make these choices in your career.


1: You get to move to the next level of your career

Making the tough decisions that come with building a career always helps you to take a step further in your career path. The next big break of your career is often tied to the tough decisions that you may be shying away from. When you make these decisions, you put yourself in a position to grow and hone your skills for the next step. 


2: A sense of direction and purpose for your career

You gain a certain sense of direction and purpose for your career when you make tough decisions. Eventually, the clarity increases with every tough decision you get to make. You'll realize that the burden of making these decisions becomes lighter with time because your purpose has become stronger over the years. So, each tough decision takes you one step closer to what you intend your career path to look like. 


3: You are in control of your career journey

Nothing reaffirms your control and intentionality about your career like making the tough choices that come with it. When you make your choices and do not just accept whatever comes your way, it creates a strong sense of control over your journey. It makes you own your journey and helps you also take responsibility for whatever it becomes. You become more deliberate about your choices because you are not just waiting for life to happen to you. 


4: You gain clarity on what is more important 

Every time you are faced with a difficult choice for your career, you always remind yourself of what is important to you in your career journey. This is one way to keep your values and goals ever before you, making it hard to miss them when the time comes. 


5: It keeps you ahead of your journey  because those decisions will come up again

The more you make decisions, the more you keep yourself ahead in your career journey. In most cases, it increases your proactivity and pushes you to plan ahead of contingencies even before they come up. It’s always an amazing skill to prepare for decisions before they come up. So, making these decisions help you because they will always come up. 


6: You fail forward 

Let’s face it, you won’t always get it right with your decisions. But that’s also the good path of making these choices, you learn from your mistakes so you make better decisions next time. That way, you don’t fail, you fail forward. 


When To Make Tough Career Choices 

As much as you want to make the tough decisions that come with your career, you also want to know when to make those decisions. At what point do I know I have to make changes in my career path? 

Here are some of the signs that let you know it’s time to make that tough decision. 

1: You don’t feel like you are doing something meaningful or making an impact

When you begin to feel like your career path has simply become a routine and nothing more, then it may be time to take a step back and reevaluate. One of the desires seated deep in the heart of everyone is knowing that their lives count for something, and your career is one of the things that contribute immensely to that. The moment you begin to feel like you are not making any impact, then you must begin to have a tough conversation with yourself and decide what you have to do. It also does not mean that you must change your career path, you may need to change your job or not, but it will help you become more self-aware and intentional.

2: You feel worn out and depleted

Everyone gets tired once in a while, but that constant feeling of being worn out or depleted is not a good look. When that feeling begins to kick in, you must take time to rethink. Could there be something you’re doing that you ought to stop? Do you need to take some time off and refresh? These are the decisions you are going to make when you begin to rethink. 

3: You are just in it for the money

Securing the bag is always an advantage. After all, money does make life a lot easier, but sacrificing your happiness at the altar of money usually brings in regrets a lot later. The thing is, having material things will never replace hating your job. So, if you find yourself doing a job just because of the money, take a step back. Job satisfaction is not overrated. 

4: You dream of a different career

It is always torture to have your body stuck in one place, and your heart in another. It’s like being married to the wrong spouse. Dreaming of a different career while on another path is a sure indicator that it is time to make some necessary changes in your life. 

5: You have become complacent 

Every career requires some level of change, growth and development at some point. Whenever you become complacent towards what you do and everything that comes with it, then it may be time for a review of what you are doing and how you are doing it. 

6: You are losing your sense of self-esteem 

To a great extent, your feeling of self-worth is tied to what you do with yourself. If you constantly find yourself not feeling proud of what you do, it isn't a good look. It's not necessarily about how big or small it is, but how it impacts the way you see yourself. 

7: You are no longer learning or growing

This sign may not exactly require you to change your career path, it could mean that you should switch jobs, locations, etc. However, because growth is an essential part of having a good career, not growing in your field means that you have to rethink your career. 


How To Make Tough Career Choices

The most important part of career choices is how to make these choices. How do I know what to consider and what not to consider? How do I define what's important and what's not important? Let's look at some of the things you should consider, and how to make the best career choices. 


1: Think deeply about yourself and become self-aware 

For any career path or career decision you would want to make, this is where you begin. To start off your career journey, dedicate time to think deeply about yourself, assess yourself and gain self-awareness. Ask questions like: 


  • What are my skills?

  • What are my interests?

  • What are the areas I have experience in?

  • What do I want to do? 

  • How do I want to do it? 

  • Where do I fit in? 

  • What is my personality? 


When you are able to answer these questions, you are able to have a deeper understanding of who you are. Until this is clear to you, you may have a hard time deciding what to do in your career path. 

2: Make a list of the career paths you can take  

When you're done with the process of self-reflecting, the next thing you would want to do is to make a list of the careers you can do. There's no one career you can do, and some career paths are also related. As you make the list, some careers will interest you more than others. These are the ones you should take note of. Also, making a list will help you streamline your options. You'll be more focused on your journey by having your options laid out before you. 

3: Identify your long-term and short-term goals

One of the things that can help you make good career choices is identifying your goals, both for the long term and the short term. What do you want to achieve in the long run? What do you see about yourself in the coming years? What kind of life do you want to have? The career path you venture into will ultimately contribute to the kind of life you have. This is why you must identify your goals, and make sure your career is aligned with those goals. 

4: Shorten your list

Once you have your list, the next thing you'd want to do is to streamline your list. There are some career options that will not appeal to you, and these are the ones you should strike off your list. When you shorten your list, you take one more step towards making the best career choice for yourself. 

5: Research your options

To help you make the best career choice, you should also research the career options that you have on your list. 


  • What are the opportunities available in them?

  • Would you need to skill up to go with them?

  • Where can I find opportunities in this field?

  • Are there people in this field already doing what I want to do? 

  • What is the educational background needed in this field?

  • What are the salary expectations? 


This research will help you decide on the career path to take. 

6: Talk to people in the career field you want to take

It's a wise decision to find people in the career field you want to join and talk to them. They will help you gain clarity about what the career field looks like, and what steps you need to take in that direction. With them, you can ask questions and gain insights that you won't get from social media or other online platforms. 

7: Network with other people 

The more you network with other people, the more you understand what the career path is about. You really cannot build your career in isolation. Network with others in other career fields and begin to understand what may or may not be obtainable in the field you want to venture into. 

8: Refuse to be influenced 

With your friends and people around you doing a lot of things, it is easy to get influenced by what they are doing and what choices they are making. To make the best choices about your career, you must stay true to yourself and refuse to be influenced. 


A career is a lifelong journey and requires a lot of commitment and consistency to navigate through it. It is much easier to make good career choices when these steps are clearly understood and practised. 

Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

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