The Next Step: Where, Who, and How Long?

What Is Your Natural Next Step?


We all have one; that natural next step. The issue is choosing where to focus our steps; our attention, our mental energy and resources. Then there is balance; balancing personal and professional endeavors for a meaningful life. The best of all worlds is to make progress in our journey without fooling ourselves to assure that “activity” is not automatically perceived as progress.

There. Now that we have the self-help mambo jambo out of the way- let’s talk. So. Question?

Whatta ya want to do next? And where? With whom? And for how long?

The Where. Part of determining your natural next step is determining the “where”. Geography, weather, commute times, costs of living, costs of housing, schools, medical, etc. One of the outgrowths of our recent economic meltdown (and pending continuance) is that fewer people are moving from one metro to another. The primary driver of picking up and moving is a job change. Not much of that going on in the last few years as people have been content to maintain. Further, with fewer jobs and millions of under-water mortgages there is less incentive to make a serious move without deep, sometime tortuous thought. Sorry folks, no answers on this front. Just questions.

Job Search

Job Search (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

With Whom. Professionally speaking, its more fun to work with people you like. We hear all the time “you don’t get to choose your family”. Does the same hold true in the workplace? When my wife, Dr. Della, is speaking to college kids about career options she always says “remember to interview the employer while they are interviewing you- ask questions and meet potential colleagues”. That’s good advice for anyone job hunting.

How long. A career track will include five to eight jobs. The probability all of these jobs will be with the same employer is very small. People change jobs for all sorts of reasons; advancement, moving closer to family, a change of scenery. Some people plain get bored with their position, other’s have no place to move up within an organization. Give some thought as to how long you want to stay in a position. Give your self permission to consider other options from time to time along your career path.

I think when you find your “natural next step”… it just feels right. You have that positive gut check thing going on. Yes, it’s hard to measure warm and fuzzy. But this is much deeper. Look at the headings above. If you are in a geographic area you want to be in, working with people that care about the work and you can sketch out about how long you want to stay… then I think you have touched on three points to build a quality decision towards a self-selected, and balanced, quality of life.

Please comment on the following questions:

  • Question: How do you decide where you want to live, where you want to work?
  • Question: When searching for a new job, what attributes are you looking for in colleagues?
  • Question: What are the determining factors in how long you stay with your employer?

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