Planning a Career Change in 3 Stages

Today my third installment of “Outside Higher Ed” appeared in Inside Higher Ed:

Screenshot of the article “Planning to Leave?” as it appears in Inside Higher Ed, showing the first few paragraphs and an icon of an arrow, representing exit from academia.

This piece shares my process of planning a career change in three stages:

  1. beginning to plan while feeling uncertain
  2. getting serious about planning
  3. putting plans into action

I share stories of re-orientating myself through counseling, allowing myself time to grieve, and experiencing a concussion as the physical manifestation of the mental exhaustion that motivated my decision to leave.

I also discuss logistical, financial, emotional, and relational matters because planning a career move involves considering nitty-gritty details in addition to the big questions of career discernment.

Though my story focuses on leaving higher ed, I hope the storytelling may be helpful to folks considering changes across many spheres of work and life. For, truly, where, when, how, why, and for whom we work are central to everyday living—and striving to live out a commitment to justice.


This post is written by Beth Godbee for Heart-Head-Hands.com. For more posts like this one, you might try “Announcing ‘Outside Higher Ed’ in Inside Higher Ed,” “Deciding to Leave Higher Ed: Strategies for Career Discernment,” or “Listening for/to the ‘Strong YES.’” Please also consider liking this blog on FB and following the blog via email. Thanks!

Deciding to Leave Higher Ed: Strategies for Career Discernment

Today the next installment in “Outside Higher Ed” appears in Inside Higher Ed: 

This hyperlinked screenshot shows the article (black text against a white background) as it appears in Inside Higher Ed.

As the title promises, this piece shares seven steps for career discernment. These include:

  1. Talking with confidants.
  2. Making lists, and writing to learn.
  3. Pairing downside with upside risks.
  4. Finding my “strong yes.”
  5. Taking steps toward a new career.
  6. Seeking a reality check.
  7. Processing grief and other emotions.

For each, I describe how the strategy played a role in my decision to leave academia, a discernment process that stretched over multiple years.

Whether or not you’ve been following along as I’ve shared my decision to transition into public writing and entrepreneurship, I hope this piece offers useful discernment practices.

Through career discernment, I continue to learn the importance of slowing down, listening to embodied wisdom, and building emotional literacies. Decision-making involves more than well-reasoned answers, and it holds potential for healing when prioritizing commitments and alignment with our better/best selves.

I continue to wish for personal and collective healing and believe our working lives play a role in this process. How might our careers—and ongoing career discernment—contribute to grieving and growing? To greater acknowledgement of both/and? To the willingness to tread alternative paths?


This post is written by Beth Godbee for Heart-Head-Hands.com. For more posts like this one, you might try Announcing ‘Outside Higher Ed’ in Inside Higher Ed,” “In the Midst of Big Changes,” or “Listening for/to the ‘Strong YES.’” Please also consider liking this blog on FB and following the blog via email. Thanks!