Greetings from Washington, D.C.

Oftentimes, people make work changes reactively. It’s feels to them like going to the supermarket on an empty stomach and bound to make decisions with their stomachs and not their heads.

It’s never a smart move.

When, making changes to a career—or pivoting to an entirely new and meaningful one—it is best to playbook your decisioning at least three steps ahead. For instance:

You may be at a point of interviewing for a new opportunity. Have you considered what could happen after your first interview?

  • What if this leads to a follow-up meeting? Will you be predisposed to continue the exploration? Are you lukewarm to the opportunity, but willing to see things through, because you are curious? Do the warning lights blink red so that do you need to sever from ongoing consideration?

Or, you may discover an opportunity to pivot to more meaningful work than you do currently are doing:

  • What if this means quitting your current job—are you financially able to do that? What if it means staying at your current company, but proposing a carve-out to do more meaningful work within your job spec? Would you be satisfied with that?

One of the cautionary tales of not thinking ahead 3 steps is when you announce you are leaving to accept a new job, but your current hiring manager tempts you with a counter-offer to stay. Oftentimes, counter-offers are traps; they offer perhaps a bump up in pay, but long term they expose you to future unhappiness and meaningless work. It is really important to “playbook” how you would handle a counter-offer, and think out ways to get past it and still leave your current role on the best of terms.

And when that happens our best days lie ahead.

Catch up on past episodes of The Tightrope with Dan Smolen Podcast. Find us on Apple PodcastStitcher, on our website, or wherever you get your podcasts. Listen HERE.

DAN SMOLEN is founder of The Dan Smolen Experience, LLC. He is also the executive producer and host of The Tightrope Meaningful Work Podcast.  Please comment here to let us know how we are doing, and, to offer suggestions for future guests and topics.

Photo credit: Calendar, iStock Photo.