How to make a difficult career decision is the ability to decide quickly without pausing because you are not certain.
Whether at work or in your personal life, making informed decisions is crucial for you to succeed and be happy. It can feel overwhelming to think about how many decisions each person is required to make in a lifetime, but learning different strategies for improving your decision-making abilities can make it all seem more manageable.
Part 1of how to make a difficult career decision
Part 1 of 4:
Understanding Your Choices
Know your objectives. Understanding the desired outcome of a given situation can help you work backwards and take steps to achieve that outcome.
Objectives should anticipate the future, taking into account what you hope to accomplish. Articulating what you want is a crucial first step before you begin trying to achieve your goals. Keeping these factors in mind will help you formulate the best plan to meet those objectives.
Think about how your goals and objectives fit in with your larger plans. For example, if you’re considering whether to leave your current job for a new career opportunity, ask yourself what your long-term career goals are. Think about how a new job might help you reach those long-term goals, or if there is any chance a new job could prevent you from achieving those goals. You should also consider all aspects of your life–for example, think about how your professional goals might affect your personal goals, and vice versa.
Chad Herst, CPCCCHAD HERST, CPCC
Think about your personal values. According to Chad Herst, a career and life coach: “It’s important to know what you stand for. When you know what’s important to you, you can make fulfilling choices that are connected to your values.”
Gather evidence and weigh the pros and cons. Evaluate your sources of evidence and understand the trade-offs of each choice. Having a clear idea of what might happen, both good and bad, can help you make a more-informed decision.
Writing out your pros and cons and comparing them side-by-side can help you compare the trade-offs.
Manage your time. If you have a series of decisions to make, it’s important to be mindful of which choices need a decision first. Some decisions may even be contingent on the outcome of another decision.
In addition to organizing situations that require a decision by time requirements, you may also need to adjust your priorities in order to best meet your goals. Day-to-day situations will change, but some decisions will require you to reevaluate your values and goals. Give time and priority to choices that require you to reflect and adjust to change.
Write down what needs to be done. Seeing it all in a manageable list can make it easier to weigh the possible outcomes of your decision and prioritize which decisions need to be made first.
In addition to the pros and cons of a given choice, consider the unknown variables. Every decision may have unpredictable outcomes, but anticipating those outcomes can help you evaluate whether or not a possible outcome is worth the risks involved.
Sometimes it will be necessary to make decisions without all of the information that you want. It’s important to remember that you will need to make decisions with the best information you have available at the time. It’s a good idea to leave yourself an opportunity to make adjustments in your decision once more information comes in.
Remember that no plan is exempt from unforeseen obstacles. Build in alternative plans or prepare “what-if” scenarios for each of your choices.
Consider whether a deeper issue may be complicating things. Certain developmental issues have a direct effect upon many parts of your life. If an underlying issue is not successfully resolved at the appropriate time, there may be significant repercussions related to your ability to make wise decisions.
For example, fear and discomfort can prevent you from making good decisions. It’s easy to justify a decision that helps you avoid discomfort, even if it’s not the best decision. Try to be self aware and recognize when you are lying to yourself or avoiding something when making a decision.
Part 2 of how to make a difficult career decision
Part 2 of 4:
Make a list out of your support system. Think about the people you know, personally or professionally, who have had to make similar decisions in the past. Do your best to find a trusted source that has experience and knowledge about what you’re dealing with.
Sharing similar values and interests is a crucial factor in building your support system. You certainly want a broad spectrum of advice, but it should be from people who, if put in your situation, would make a decision based on the same values and goals you have in mind. It’s also a good idea to ask them about their background.
Make sure that you only take advice from people who are knowledgeable and experienced. Some people will eagerly offer advice, even if they don’t know anything about the topic.
For example, the Small Business Administration is a great support system for small business owners. You can get more information by visiting their website here: https://www.sba.gov/.
Reach out to the people you listed in your support system. Tell the people you trust about the decision at hand, and ask for advice on the matter. Having a support system can help you emotionally, by providing comfort, and physically, by lowering stress levels and blood pressure.
Ask for advice, not validation. You don’t want people to tell you what you want to hear; you should be asking others in order to make an informed decision.
Ask a variety of people with varying backgrounds. Having a pool of responses can help you evaluate how a majority of other people view the decision. Just be sure that everyone you ask has your best interests in mind.
Don’t forget that you are the only person who can make the final decision. You can ask for advice on how others might approach the situation, but ultimately, the decision must be yours.
Ask your support system for advice by email. That way, you can carefully consider how best to ask your question, and they can think carefully about how best to respond. You’ll also have a written record of the conversation, in case you can’t remember a piece of advice someone offered to you.
Give context to the people you are asking for advice. Let them know the details of the decision you must make, and what the stakes are regarding that choice. And of course, always thank your support system for their time and assistance.
Be comfortable asking for assistance. There’s nothing wrong with needing to ask others for advice. In fact, some research suggests that asking for advice is perceived by others as a sign of intelligence.
Part 3 of how to make a difficult career decision
Part 3 of 4:
Set a deadline for yourself. Having a deadline and a step-by-step plan of action will allow you to have a better understanding of the issues at hand and to know that you’ve thoroughly considered the situation.
You may find it helpful to set a series of deadlines for yourself. For example, make a decision by one deadline, then formulate a course of action by a second deadline, then implement that course of action by a third deadline, and so on.
Put your choices into action. Now that you’ve carefully considered every angle of the issue and consulted with trusted sources, implement your choice by the deadline you’ve set yourself.
Assess whether you’ve made the right decision. Examine where your decision falls with relation to your principles. Clear values, a consistent commitment to dealing with reality, and the formulation of a constructive personal philosophy are important elements that contribute to the decision-making process in the future.
Give yourself a performance review. Ask yourself whether you were open and honest with others about this decision. Did you make the best, most-educated decision you could make? Considering questions like these can help you honestly evaluate your choices and make better decisions in the future.
Anticipate that not everyone will agree with your decision. That does not necessarily mean that you made the wrong choice. It could merely reflect on the difficulty of the choice you had to make. Be sure to communicate all of the factors and circumstances surrounding the issue to those who will be affected by your decision.
Some people may disagree with your decision simply because they are fearful of change. Do not let one or two negative reactions lead you to believe that you were wrong; instead, seek out feedback, and inquire into why the decision was poorly received.
Part 4 of how to make a difficult career decision
Part 4 of 4:
Don’t let the past inform your decision-making process for the future. Just because you may have made poor choices in previous circumstances, it does not mean you cannot begin to make better decisions immediately. Also, just because something worked in the past, it does not guarantee that it will work well in the future. Treat each issue that arises as a unique situation and a valuable learning experience.
Don’t beat yourself up if you make a bad decision. There is no right or wrong, there is only what works and what doesn’t work. When you have unpleasant experiences, think of them as learning experiences.
Take your ego out of the equation. Doing this will help you evaluate whether the choice you made was honest and well-informed, rather than simply seeking affirmation and praise.
Don’t personalize rejection or criticism. Rather than looking for “proof” of a decision being good or bad, or thinking that the value of your decisions determines your own value, look for opportunities to learn and grow from your decision-making process.
Cultivate your intuition. By making informed decisions, you are gradually learning to trust your intuition and teaching yourself to think things through in the best way possible. Over time, you will learn to feel good about the choices you’ve made as you become more confident in your decision-making abilities.
Don’t let fear guide your decisions. Fear is one of the biggest obstacles toward developing and trusting your intuition.
Focus on one single event or situation that requires a decision and try meditating on that issue. Think deeply and openly about all of the implications, possibilities, and circumstances of the issue, and then consider the most likely outcomes of each choice you could make.
Keep a diary or journal to document your intuitive reaction to various issues and how each decision played out. This can help you look for patterns in your judgment and learn to better trust your intuition.