Throughout our entire lives, there will always be moments when we’re faced with making big decisions from choosing to go to university, taking a specific course or sticking to the same job for the rest of our career. And, they are some of the hardest choices to make considering that we spend the best part of the day at work.
If you’re currently struggling to make your own big career decision, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve uncovered all the factors you need to take into consideration along with useful tips that will hopefully lead you to making the right choices.
1. Think Like A Scientist
While it’s tempting to throw caution to the wind and just go with your feelings when it comes to your career, it’s always better to gather as much information as you can before jumping into a decision.
For example, say, you’ve been working in the same company for five years, but an exciting new opportunity suddenly lands on your lap luring you in with a slew of incredible benefits such as travel opportunities and unlimited bonuses! But before you wave 'goodbye' to your old work, take the time to look into what’s being offered.
Chances are if it’s too good to be true, then it most probably is. Like a scientist trying to prove a theory, gather as much data and use as many tools as you can until you come out with a satisfying conclusion. Or in this case, decision.
2. Imagine Your Future Self
By placing yourself in the future rather than the present, you’ll have a better way of understanding how your decision will impact your goals. Ask yourself difficult questions like: 'What will my career be like in x amount of years?', 'How will this choice affect my long-term goals?' and 'What kind of new skills or type of growth will this company give me?'
Even if the offer sounds exciting, if it has no room for development and will limit your learning, then it’s probably best to weigh your options further and to stay put until you’re clear about what you truly want.
3. Distinguish Between Feeling and Intuition
Instinct or intuition are developed over years of observation and experience. It’s something that was born out of evolution and our need for survival. Feelings, on the other hand, are based on the present; similar to the temporary high you get when you buy yourself something new and shiny.
When making a career decision be sure not to confuse the two. Intuition is an ongoing feeling that there’s something wrong; for example over a period of time, you may develop the feeling that you don’t quite fit into your organisation. Dig deeper and try to find the reasons why you feel this way. It could be that you don’t feel challenged enough in your current position or maybe it’s the opposite and you’re feeling burned out.
Whatever the case may be, your gut is telling you to do something about it so you should listen to your instincts rather than irrational feelings.
4. Consider All Your Options
When we’re stressed our brain has a hard time looking for new ways to work around our problems often leading us to bad choices.
For this reason, it’s vital to consider all your options before making any rational decisions. For example, if your job offer requires you to relocate to a new city but you haven’t had time to look for a place yet, you can propose to work remotely for the meantime instead of getting on the next flight out there with nowhere to live and no real stability.
Career decisions don’t always have to be made in take-it-or-leave-it situations. Sometimes, you need a little time to look at the broader picture and find alternative solutions.
5. Stop Looking for Signs
Whenever we’re faced with tough decisions, we always look for a sign, like, “if my boss gets mad at me it’s a sign”, “if a client gets disappointed in this campaign, that’s a sign”. But the fact of the matter is, signs will always be there if you’re looking for them.
Instead of relying on the universe to provide you with vague directions, it’s important to know why you’re seeking justification. After all, if you’re looking for signs of validation, chances are you’ve already made a choice.
Find out why you’re unsure about your decision. Are you considering a significant career change without listening to a second opinion? Perhaps you’re feeling guilty about letting go of your stable job so that you can pursue freelancing? In any instance, you need to confront what’s making your choice so uncomfortable and deal with it head on; even if it means having difficult conversations with the people around you.
6. Talk About Your Concerns With a Trusted Person
When you’re feeling anxious or pressured, your mind tends to play out worst-case scenarios. Thoughts of unpaid bills, disappointed family members and angry colleagues pop into mind. While it’s good to anticipate possible outcomes having these images stuck in your mind might paralyse you or lead you to the wrong choice.
A good way out is discussing your worries with trusted friend or mentor. Talking through the scenarios with a level-headed individual will help alleviate any stress and get rid of any paranoia lingering in your head.
7. Take Your Time
It often feels that when you’re trying to make big decisions, time is always against you; the recruiter needs an answer by the end of the week, or your boss would like to hear from you in two days. Given all that’s at stake when making a choice, a lingering deadline is the last thing you need.
However, don’t let the pressures of the outside world get to you. If you need more time to think, ask for it! If a company truly values your worth, they’ll give you the time that you need to think things through. A big career decision will impact you for the rest of your life, so you deserve to give it as much time as you need.
8. Don’t Decide in Fear
Sometimes even when you feel strongly about your decision, you’ll go against it because you’re afraid of what other people might think or say about you. You fear disappointment from those around you.
When this happens, your default reaction would be to stick to the safest and easiest option. But decisions made in fear will backfire in the end; you won’t take the initiative at work because you don’t like it, you’ll resent the people you love because you feel forced and you would’ve spent your entire life asking the proverbial question, 'what if?' Don’t let your fear of the future get in the way of your dreams. Think about your career goals and decide which path will bring you closer to them.
Deciding on your career is always hard and uncertain. You’ll never know the outcome of your choices until you take that leap. But if you’ve done your research, talked to the people who matter the most and know in your gut that your decision is right, then there’s nothing left to do but make that choice and stick with it. What’s important is to keep moving towards your goals, confidently knowing that the decisions you made will take you there.
What’s the most significant career decision you’ve ever made? Did you regret it? Let us know in the comment section below.