List your goals and set your priorities. The first thing you need to do when faced with a major decision in life is to list your goals. Putting things down on paper clarifies the issues. You need it on paper to actually see what is really important to you. This list should include personal as well as professional goals. If you have an important other that you would like to share your life with, it is good to factor in their goals, or at least discuss the big decision together. If you want to stay in a relationship, you need to have common or compatible goals.
After listing your goals, set your priorities. Forget the less important goals and focus on the most important. A good method to identify your most important goals is to label them as A goals or B goals, and then number them (A1, A2, A3 etc.). Focus on the A goals. (This is explained in detail in Chapter 6.5).
List your work style and life style priorities. What do you need to start your career? Your work style list should include things you need to thrive at work such as: a good training program, a good team of professionals to work with, a boss who empowers you (if you are pursuing a professional license like with engineers or psychologists you definitely need your boss to be a licensed professional in your field, under whom you will work and receive qualifying hours of supervision), good technical support and equipment, a clear corporate mission statement, a competitive salary with great benefits, and a chance to apply what you have learned in your education. Prioritize the list.
Your life style list should include things you need to thrive outside of work. What should you include? Well, your list might include: affordable housing, a reasonable commute, a livable community, quality schools, a low crime rate, a major university where you can continue your education, proximity to family, being close to your "important other", a short drive to the ski slopes and an even shorter drive to the ocean. Include whatever you need to feel like life is good and not just all work. I have worked with an electrical engineering graduate, who loved surfing and number one on his priority list was that he be able to surf from time to time. He now works as a design engineer at Port Hueneme, California, and he surfs during lunchtime everyday. This is one happy camper!
Once you have done your personal reflection by listing your goals and your life style/work style preferences, set your priorities. Now you have criteria by which to assess which offer represents the best possible move for your career and your life.