Three Top Tips To Help You Make Difficult Career Decisions


The thought of making big decisions, particularly around careers, is enough to send many people into a state of procrastination and high stress.

I notice it particularly with clients who are either students about to take their first career step, or those trying to make a career change in their 30s, 40s, or 50s.

Let me give you an example.

I was taken by a client to a careers fair at a university in London to run a couple of workshops and answer ad-hoc career questions from students at the event.

One student, who was quite visibly distressed, explained that she had 5 things that she loved doing and making a career decision would mean dropping four of them. She had been told that she could only choose one for her career. I explained how she only had to make a decision for the first step of her career, and that she would be able to incorporate the other things or change careers entirely when and if she chose to in the future. As she took this all in, I could see the anxiety leave her and almost before I finished speaking, she had a smile on her face.

Recently I’ve been working with someone who is a mid-life career changer. She has a family now so her values around work have changed. As she returns to work, she’s realised that she doesn’t actually enjoy it anymore. But, she was in a state of feeling stuck, not knowing which way to go next, not realising that she had choices, thinking that whatever she decides is all there will be for the rest of her career. Even if she did know the direction she wanted, she had no idea how to make the move (we’re working on that one).

By working through some strategies to identify and explore options, she’s now looking into several options that will move her to a place where she can get a role she likes that will support her lifestyle and give her the time she wants with her young family.

So, here are Three Top Tips to Help you Make Difficult Career Decisions:

  • Remember that you are only deciding for the next step.

You can make new decisions in the future.

  • Never regret a decision.

Hindsight is a wonderful and sometimes dangerous thing: remember that when you made the decision it was the best one for you at that time and with the information you had available to you back then.

  • Know your career values – what’s important to you about your work/career/job.

Then you’ll know which option best suits you. If you want to know how to define and prioritise your work values, get my 9 Days to Career Success course. It’s free and you’ll find day 4 will be particularly interesting for you.

And finally, two further actions to help with your career decision making:

  1. Book yourself 15 minutes sometime this week to watch Ruth Chang’s excellent TED Talk “How to make hard choices”. There are some real nuggets throughout the talk leading to a couple of really powerful points at the end which I think will make a difference to you.
  2. For further reading, you may like to look back at my blog from July, What has your employer Ever Done For You, here you will find a short video about the importance of getting the things from your work that matter to you. It will give you more information to help you make good decisions.

What are you putting off because you won’t decide? Who are you going to BE?

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