5 Gut Feelings That Could Prevent You From Making a Bad Career Move

Mature african woman looking outside window with uncertainty.
Ridofranz / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Whenever someone says, “go with your gut,” it is typically concerning a matter of little importance or consequence. For example, debating between two relatively similar routes home from work is something that might normally come down to a gut decision.

Surely, basing a major life or career choice strictly on emotion or feeling shouldn’t be considered over rational analysis of the situation. Or should it? 

Don’t be too quick to push aside the “gut feelings” you have in favor of reasoned deliberation, because they can often tell you more than you think. In fact, it might be rational to trust your emotions.

“Emotions are actually not dumb responses that always need to be ignored or even corrected by rational faculties,” writes Valerie van Mulukom on The Conversation. “They are appraisals of what you have just experienced or thought of — in this sense, they are also a form of information processing.”

Make Your Money Work Better for You

Intuition shouldn’t be used solely to make decisions, however, as it doesn’t consider the whole picture of a decision or dilemma. But when it comes to making career decisions, there intuitive signs that cannot be ignored, even if you rationalize them as mere feelings. According to a recent article published by PsychCentral, there are five signs or gut feelings that you should look for that may forewarn of a wrong career move.

A Bad Omen

Sometimes you just feel that something bad will happen. But should you follow this intuitive emotion or is your stress or anxiety coming to the forefront of a looming difficult decision?

Rationalizing away a sense of foreboding shouldn’t be done hastily. PsychCentral suggests using Suzy Welch’s 10/10/10 method to focus your thinking when making a hard decision. Thinking about how you will feel 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now and 10 years from now will help to put some distance, and some clarity, on a tough decision.

Desperate Measures

Feelings of desperation can cripple a person. Confusion sets in when you feel there is no way out of a job or a financial mess.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

You don’t need to go to therapy to know that spending too much time inside your own head is a confounding place to live. Opening up to a colleague, friend or mentor — who isn’t impacted by your situation — will work wonders. Not only will you potentially gain valuable outside advice, but you may be able to lift a weight off your shoulders and explore new possibilities not previously considered.  

What’s Motivating You?

When you are confronted with a possible impactful career decision, are you listening to your gut feelings or is there something more sinister at play?

Intuition is one thing. Fear is another. Running from a problem or criticism, making a decision out of spite or jealousy … according to PsychCentral, these are typical escape mechanisms driven by fear and if followed, could put you in a precarious career situation. Learning how to become self-supporting rather than using an external motivation for big decisions will help you in all decisions.    

Giving Yourself Pep Talks

If you are working overtime talking yourself into something, it’s probably not the right decision to make for your workplace or career life.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

“At least I have a job” or “I’d look stupid for passing up this promotion” are easy intellectualizations. You should have a job you enjoy, that provides everything you want in life. It’s not always obtainable but it should be the goal. Being overly rational is a trap; you are denying what you truly believe in and are trying to convince your suspicious self into accepting something that might be a bad move or something you think others will approve of instead of yourself.

A Troubled Soul

It’s easy to lose perspective when faced with a prickly career predicament but using the decision process as a learning opportunity will help you concentrate on the here and now.  

A heightened state of anxiousness, a loss of sleep and being irritable and restless are all legitimate side effects of confronting a meaningful work or career decision. The process may fluster even the strongest-willed person. According to PsychCentral, taking things one day at a time and knowing what you need to do in the moment will help to take “false pressure” off of yourself and will enable you to move forward and tackle any tough decision, gut feeling or not.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

Social Security: Women Get $354 Per Month Less Than Men – Here’s Why
Find:10 Unexpected Jobs You Can Do From Home

Before you make any final decisions, Nisha Kumar Kulkarni of Idealist.org notes you should always be asking yourself certain questions in addition to listening to your inner voice, namely:

  • Are you really listening to what your inner voice is advising? Or are you rushing to an answer to stop thinking about this decision?
  • Are you trusting your gut because you have all the information you need? Or are you being too lazy to fill in any gaps you may have?
  • As you fill in those information gaps, is your gut becoming more confident or more anxious?
  • How much of what your gut is telling you is based on other people’s experiences, opinions, and expectations, and how much is based on your own experiences, opinions, and expectations?

Mistaking a gut feeling for intuition rather than your anxiety acting up or using the emotion to make a decision quicker or to avoid getting all the relevant information could guide you down an equally perilous path.

More From GOBankingRates

Make Your Money Work Better for You

Make Your Money Work Better for You

About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.
Learn More


See Today's Best
Banking Offers