A looming new year has a way of making you think about what you want, and those thoughts can easily turn toward your next career move.

There are a number of ways to go about looking for a job, as well as pitfalls to avoid and processes to follow.

I'm not going to talk about any of that.

Instead, I want to share two key tests that will clearly tell you if you’re onto something special when you consider a prospective career move.

1. Am I Excited?

If the new job doesn't get you excited, why are you considering it?

It might pay more or come with more status. Maybe it's the move you feel you ought to make. Or maybe it's what your partner or peers think you should do.

Those are all normal (if sometimes confusing) reasons to consider a new job. But if you don't get an innate sense that this opportunity might allow you to do some really great work and you're not keen to find out more, then something's up.

New opportunities are supposed to be exciting. They’re supposed to give you the sense that you’re stepping into something fresh and new. Otherwise, why bother?

So if that excitement isn’t there, it could be that the job or company itself simply isn't exciting. If that’s the case, remember that there are other ways for you to get excited—for example, meeting new colleagues, moving to a new location, or seeking out ways to create value.

Or perhaps that excitement is tempered by fear. If that’s the case, continue to the next test.


2. Am I Scared?

If the new job doesn't scare you a little, are you playing it too safe?

Fear emerges when there's uncertainty, so making any kind of career move typically comes with some level of apprehension. But when you're moving into something that will challenge you, stretch you, and test what you're made of, that fear gets dialed up to 11.

So if you don't feel scared about your next move, you either know how to manage and normalize that voice of fear (nicely done), or you're considering a job that doesn’t push your limits (not so good).

Moving to a new job should be about leaning into new challenges, growing into new opportunities, and learning from new people. The only reason you’d make a move that doesn't offer those things is when you want to prioritize safety and certainty over growth and opportunity; a choice that allows fear to call all the shots.

So, the litmus test for a good career move is this—are you scared and excited?

Those two feelings together are surprisingly powerful—powerful indicators of the type of opportunity that's waiting, powerful ways to enter into a new role, and powerful clues that you just might be onto something special.

Photo of woman thinking courtesy of Shutterstock.