Key Tips for Wise Career Choices

Life is full of choices. Some require little thought or reflection—like the choice of what to eat for lunch— while others deserve serious debate. When it comes to your career, you’ve likely already made several difficult choices and you will undoubtedly face many more.

There is a natural back and forth in every decision. Usually, whenever something is gained, something else is sacrificed. In order to make informed choices, you must weigh the risks against the potential rewards. You must make assumptions and, at times, great leaps of faith. Choices are rarely ever black and white, all good or all bad, clearly right or clearly wrong. They are complicated and no two people will see them through the exact same lens.

As with most things in life, putting in the effort on the front end is the best way to reduce the potential for disappointing results on the back end. There is no guarantee, of course. Even the most thoughtful decisions have been known to backfire. A choice is, most often, nothing more than an educated guess—a hopeful step in a new direction.

So, when facing a career choice, whether big or small, how can you make sure you’re approaching the situation with the appropriate level of consideration? How can you ensure your “guess” is truly the best you can make? Below, I’ve outlined a few points to remember in your decision-making process.

Does the choice reflect who you are?

Your life is the result of your choices. Each decision outlines your reality and is a reflection of who you are, what you value and your priorities. Making choices that conflict with your underlying values inevitably leads to restlessness and dissatisfaction. If you aren’t happy with the choices you’ve made in the past, evaluate your values and what motivated your decision. More than likely, there is some sort of disconnect between the two.

The Emotional factor

Be sure to recognize the role emotions play in your decision-making process. Though it’s unrealistic—and unhealthy—to suppress emotions completely, it’s helpful to understand where they influence your behaviors. Look for the messages beneath the emotions; let your heart and your head work together to find the best solution for you.

Make time your ally

Anxiety and urgency almost always have a negative impact on decision-making. Don’t let a ticking clock push you into a choice you haven’t properly evaluated. Sure, you may face a deadline to reach your conclusion, but avoid placing unnecessary timelines on yourself. Be thorough and balance your desire for a resolution with your need for a well thought-out decision-making process.

NOT making a decision is still a decision

You can’t simply ignore that a decision has to be made and expect it to go away. Choosing not to choose is often the easiest way out, but it’s still a choice in its own special way. It’s the choice to observe rather than participate, which isn’t always a bad thing. There are times when you’re better off simply letting a situation run its course without attempting to steer it in any direction. Sit back, allow events to unfold, and let the decision to you.

Avoid framing it as an “either/or” choice

There are always more options. When you trap yourself into limited thinking, you fail to see all the potential options. Don’t place artificial restrictions on yourself or the possibilities in front of you. When you face an “either/or” dilemma, look for the grey space in between. Don’t be tempted to view it as an empty void; it can be a deep well of potential.

Extend some trust

Trust in yourself, trust in others, trust in the Universe. Have a little faith that everything will work out well, whether or not the future looks exactly the way you had imagined it. Remember that change is constant and you have the resources to manage whatever comes along. Your choices have consequences that shape your reality; you always have the opportunity to make different choices in the future and create a new reality for yourself.

Remember that a well thought-out choice is never wrong, no matter what happens. It might be tempting to blame yourself when things don’t turn out the way you had anticipated, but this accomplishes nothing. Don’t dwell in regret. Simply accept the lesson and move on. Take what you’ve learned with you and use it the next time you face a difficult choice in your career or elsewhere in life.

I hope you find this helpful the next time you are confronted with a career choice.


David Lammert

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