How to Decide the Next Step in Your Career

A few years ago, I was facilitating a training and one of the participants asked me, “So, Rosetta, what’s next for you?” I had no answer because at the time, I was wondering the same thing myself! I love the term “infinite possibility” but when you have several different paths you can take, it can be difficult to pick one and move forward. Here I was, trying to help this group of leaders figure out how to get to the next stage of their careers, and I wasn’t able to articulate where mine is going.

“I don’t know,” is what I said at the time. Soon after though, I went through a process to figure out what, exactly, I wanted to do next. Here are some ideas you might use in your own stage of discernment about where you want your career to go.

Identify Your Signature Strengths

Many years ago, I completed the VIA Character Strengths Assessment (it’s free to take the survey with email registration) for the first time. The VIA was designed by Dr. Martin Seligman , Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of positive psychology. It was such a powerful tool for me that I now use it with most of my coaching clients. It affirmed for me the top five signature strengths that I should be using in my work as much as possible:

  • Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
  • Curiosity and interest in the world
  • Perspective (wisdom)
  • Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
  • Social intelligence

Identifying your strengths can help you pinpoint what kind of work you’re naturally good at and drawn to. Knowing my signature strengths have affirmed that I am at my best when I’m writing, speaking, teaching and inspiring others to be their best selves.

Become a Student Again

When you’re not sure what you want to do next in your career, it helps to explore other options through formal or informal learning opportunities. In my case, I started coaching and loved it so much that I sought to learn more about it and improve my skills. I’ve had formal training in so many other areas of my professional life such as fundraising and leadership development, but had not yet done anything related to coaching. So in 2011, I took the Coach Training Intensive course with one of my mentors Valorie Burton to earn a certificate in personal development coaching from The CAPP Institute. Being a student in the coaching field helped me to fully embrace the possibilities for utilizing coaching as a tool to empower others. It opened my eyes to a whole new way of how I could help women create their ideal lives.

Pay Attention to Your Passion

Back in 2010, I quit my nonprofit job to pursue a career as an independent consultant. The organization had a great reputation and inspiring leadership. It paid well and to be honest, I probably could have worked there for many more years. But I wouldn’t have been happy. I remember being in a work meeting where I was supposed to be taking notes. Instead, I was daydreaming and writing down potential blog post topics. I couldn’t wait to get home to start writing and working on my own projects! I’d wanted to write a book for a couple of years, but could never seem to find the time to do it. Yes, it was a good job but my passion was really in working for myself, writing, teaching and traveling. I knew I didn’t want to work myself to death and wait until my 60s to finally start living the life I want. Paying attention to what I was most interested in led me to focus on doing those activities well and allowed me to create a profitable business from them.

The Bottom Line

No matter what path you choose, remember that we only get one life and it’s nobody’s fault but yours if you don’t use it wisely. What risks are you willing to take on yourself to become the kind of person you want to be? When you figure that out, and you can feel the possibilities lighting you up when you awake in the morning, that’s when you decide. That’s when you start to see your true options clearly – whether it’s moving on to another company, applying for a better position, moving to a new city or starting your own business. Because ultimately, deciding the next step in your career is not really about your job or your business. It’s about showing up with your greatest gifts and contributing fully from that place of purpose.

Leave a comment: What’s the next step for YOU in your career? How are you going to get there?


Rosetta Thurman is the Founder of Happy Black Woman, a supportive community that empowers women to create their ideal lives through personal development and entrepreneurship. Join thousands of women who have completed the only online course that gives you all the tools you need to get unstuck, set clear goals and rediscover who you truly are. Learn more about my 31 Days to Reset Your Life program here.

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