Career Development

How to Make Important Decisions About Your Career

February 11, 2021

You have most likely made many major decisions throughout the years regarding your career. The decisions that occur in your career path may be uncomfortable but with some tools, you can confidently make decisions. In this article, we will discuss how to make decisions with tips and examples of career decisions you may be faced with.

What is decision-making?

Decision-making at its core is the process you use to reach important choices. Many decisions occur on a routine basis and you don’t give them much thought. Honing your decision-making skills will help you with  tougher decisions that involve:

  • Uncertainty: There isn’t enough information provided or the facts are unknown. 
  • Complexity: There are many interrelated factors to consider. 
  • Various alternatives: Each alternative has all of the complexities and consequences involved.
  • High-risk consequences: The decision’s impact is significant.

Examples of difficult career decisions

Here are some common decisions that may come up during your career path:

  • Which career to pursue
  • Accepting a promotion
  • Taking one job over the other
  • Moving to a new city for a job opportunity
  • Changing careers
  • Traveling for a job
  • Quitting a job to pursue a passion

How to make a decision

Here are some steps you can take to help you make a decision that involves your career:

  1. Identify and investigate the decision.
  2. Set aside time to think.
  3. Consider your options.
  4. Remember your values.
  5. Ask for a different perspective.
  6. Evaluate your plan.

1. Identify and investigate the decision

Define the decision by making sure you understand its aspects. Gather all the necessary information about the decision. Ask clarifying questions about what the decision entails to parties involved. Here are some examples of questions you can ask yourself:

What am I doing this for?

The best decisions you make for yourself are the ones that keep your overall life goals in mind. When you figure out what you want out of your career and how it matches with your life goals, it will be easier to eliminate options that you don’t want for your life. 

Who am I doing this for?

It is important to ask yourself this question to gain perspective if the choice is something you truly want to make or if someone else is influencing you to pursue a course that may not be right for you. The opinions of others can be valuable, but you should keep them in their proper place and not let their ideas take over your own. 

How will this choice change me?

Anyone can make a decision using a laid-out process and produce a solution. However, you may want to consider the way it will impact you as a person. For instance, if you make a decision that is callous or harsh, you might not like who you’ve become. Or if you make a decision that is weak-willed, you may experience a drop in self-esteem.

2. Set aside time to think

Set aside time to think about the decision you’re facing. Explore options when you’re feeling positive and rested. You may want to try selecting a time of day when you have minimal distractions and your brain is functioning at its best.

3. Consider your options

Once you set aside time to think about the decision, you will likely have a better idea of what your options are. Try to creatively brainstorm possible options that work for your situation. You may want to list all of them and cross them off using a process of elimination. 

4. Remember your values

Values are the fundamental beliefs that you think are important. Your values are the measure you likely use to evaluate if your life is going the way you want it to. Remembering what’s important to you will assist you with the decision-making process and help you to gain clarity on what it is you want out of your career and life. For instance, if you value time to be home with your children or pets, then you may not want to take a job that requires a lot of travel. 

5. Ask for a different perspective

After you have thoroughly eliminated the options you won’t consider and have come to a general consensus about the choice you will make, it can be helpful to ask for the perspective of a trusted friend, colleague or family member. Try asking for perspective from someone that is not directly affected by your decision to avoid bias. Sometimes other people see things that you don’t and they can provide valuable insight into your decisions.

6. Evaluate your plan

This step may help you notice any errors or missteps when you’re planning out your decision-making process. Try reviewing the facts and research you collected during your process and objectively assess all of the information. 

You may also want to take the time during your evaluation to listen to your intuition and methodically test your assumptions and decisions against past experiences.

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