The Five Steps of a Good Career Decision

Although minds are not terribly good at career decision making, and actually really quite good at keeping us stuck inside our heads, good career decisions are a lot easier when we:

  1. Know how good decisions are made; and
  2. Break it down into smaller steps.

So here goes with the 5 steps to a really good career decision.

Some of these stages might take 5 hours, some may take 5 weeks.  But together they should help you avoid getting stuck for 5 years, as I did.

(Actually it was more like 12 years, but I wanted everything to be ‘5’ something).

Step 1 – Understand your Stuckness

Your mind will be impatient to press on with the process.  But try not to.

Slow down a moment.

If you are stuck, you may well be feeling exhausted – and so busy that it is hard to think.  It may take some time for the world to stop spinning.

See if you can find some time for reflection.  Take a long weekend. Try to get some distance (physical and mental) from your situation.  You can’t solve this one by trying harder.

Step 2 – Identify your Decision Criteria

Should you quit and start your own gig?  Stay put for the sake of your family?  I don’t know.  You don’t know.  No one can know, because we haven’t specified what ‘good’ looks like yet.

So imagine you were buying a house.  You can’t visit every house in the world, so you need a set of criteria to help you narrow the list before you start visiting.

Your list of criteria will include lots of stuff, and some of it may even conflict.  Somehow when we buy a house we see this as normal – it’s all a tradeoff.

Career choices are just the same.  Not all of your criteria will point conveniently in the same direction.  That’s normal, too.

For resources that can help you identify your decision criteria go here and for more on the practicalities of identifying decision criteria, go here.

Step 3 – Identify your Options

Humans make decisions based on comparisons with other options.  So without fully understanding your options you cannot make a good decision.  For all you know, your ideal job could be out there but you’ve just never heard of it. (Or you need to invent it, as I did).

Therefore, you need to dedicate at least some time to understanding what your options are and generating options where necessary.  This means a period of creative thinking, generating as many ideas as you can think of.

Of the options you know about, like starting your own business, bring them to life by specifying exactly what type of business and what your role in it would be.  We have tools and resources to help with this tricky part of the process, so drop us a line if you think we could help.

Step 4 – Make a Decision

The etymology of the word ‘decision’ is ‘to cut off’ and in many ways that’s what you’re doing – cutting off some of the hopes, dreams and vague aspirations that are the pay-offs of not making a decision.  So it’s going to be painful.

But at some point you will have to make a decision, or else your non-decision will become your decision.

So where to start?

Try whittling down your options first.  One helpful way of doing that is to score all of your options from step 3 against all of your criteria from step 2.  This isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely rigorous.

Once you’ve scored all your options, get rid of the options that score badly.  As you narrow your options you can spend more time researching and experimenting with the options that remain.

Eventually, most people are left with one or two options to take forward, so they can…

Step 5 – Make a Plan and Get into Action

You don’t get a better career by thinking about one, you have to get out there and take action.

Once you have a broad direction, you’ll need a plan to help you get moving:

As you know however, the plan is one thing but reality will look more like this:

So you will need a support team around you. And you will need to manage your risks.  That’s a whole other post, but our website is full of ideas, resources and inspiration to help you navigate through the process.

However, if you feel like you need some support, then contact us for a free introductory discussion.

This 5 step process doesn’t guarantee a dream career or life, but a good decision will get you moving again and stack the odds in your favour from that point on.

It’s time to get out of your mind and into your life.  Good luck.

Career Change, Getting Unstuck coaching

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