I’m reading The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention by Pamela Mitchell.  I’m not that far in, so I can’t really give you a book report yet but there was one point that I felt was particularly poignant.  Pamela wrote about how someone, Stacey, was so excited about Pamela’s job at the time.  Stacey loved the idea of Pamela’s job but Stacey was focused on business class tickets to Japan on the company’s dime.

Pamela’s point was that Stacey looked at Pamela’s job as a fantasy, oh all those trips to exotic sounding places and not having to sit behind the curtain with the commoners as she did it.  Stacey didn’t ask the real questions about the job.  From The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention, “How long was I usually away?  How much of that time was spent working?  Did I enjoy reading through hundreds of pages of contracts?  When was the last time I had seen my friends?  How were my houseplants doing?”

You have to be careful about letting the fantasy, both good and bad fantasies, prevent you from making an informed decision.  The international travel sounds good but conference rooms around the world largely look the same.  When you are considering a change, stop and consider as many details about the potential reality as you can.  What is a typical day like?  What is a typical week like?  Will you be able to afford the things in life that are important to you?  Will you have the free hours to actually enjoy your life?  Will you be able to plan and make commitments?  Should your houseplants all be plastic?

Common areas to consider:

1.) Financial – this is an obvious one but be sure to consider both short term and longer term goals

2.) Consistency – there is no right answer here.  It comes down to whether you like to always live without a plan on one end of the spectrum or to have predictability.  If you are planning on taking classes, volunteering for your kids or even having Tuesday night bowling league, a lifestyle that requires you to travel at the drop of a hat.

3.) Variety – Even if you can go bowling every Tuesday, does the change give you enough of the spice of life to keep you engaged for the long term.

4.) Growth potential – what you are considering may seem perfect for you today but what about next year?  What about ten years from now?  Does this change launch you in the direction that you want to go?

5.) Authority – as a manager of mine told me years ago, what ever role you have must either have the authority to fulfill the responsibility of the job or the person you work for must have that authority.  If the authority necessary for you to succeed is more than one level away from you, than you probably won’t succeed.

6.) Flexibility – if you really need to drop everything and disappear for an afternoon, can you?  Can you choose which task needs to get done in what order?