Career decisions are tough – 4 steps to make better career decisions

Steve Kimmens Career Wellbeing, Find a job, psychology, Tools, video Leave a Comment

Who hasn’t struggled with a difficult career decision?


“Should I take this job or not???”


The human brain is fantastic and fantastically flawed. We are not the logic, calculator based machines we sometimes think we are. Decisions can stop us in our tracks, especially BIG career decisions.


Therefore, give yourself the tools to navigate your next career decision with these 4 steps:

  1. Widen your choices
  2. Reality test your assumptions
  3. Get distance from your short term emotions?
  4. Prepare to be wrong


Make better career decisions with these 4 steps from Chip & Dan Heath’s book ‘Decisive’


BTW this approach isn’t just for career decisions, it is a process for all BIG decisions. A skill that will be useful throughout your career.


Book cover Decisive

“Research in psychology has revealed that our decisions are disrupted by an array of biases and irrationalities: We’re overconfident. We seek out information that supports us and downplay information that doesn’t. We get distracted by short-term emotions.”

Chip & Dan Heath, Decisive


4 steps to better career decisions:


1. Widen your options

We often fall into the Eminem trap: “My one shot, one opportunity.”

In other words, we make it a really difficult decision because we think is the only chance we have.

Jobs come and go, opportunities come and go.

If we take a longer term view, with a wider perspective we can take the pressure off of ourselves.

Above all, by widening our options we’re more relaxed and able to think more clearly about the career decision.


2. Reality test your assumptions

We all have a limited view of the world. We bring our own assumptions and biases to any decision.

Career decisions are no different.

If we are deciding whether to join a team or organisation we will want to talk to people we know in that organisation to get more insights.

Not only we will have more knowledge, but we can test our own assumptions against what we hear.

Our network might be limited, so we can also ask people we know well to reach out to people in that organisation.


Tip – LinkedIn can show you who you know who works at a company. LinkedIn will also show you if they are a second-degree connection, and who your mutual connection is.


3. Get distance from your short term emotion?

For instance, you’ve been offered this job.

Your ego is understandably pumped up from being offered a job (especially if you have been head hunted).

In other words, short term emotion is clouding your judgement.

The questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Is it the right job for me?
  • Does it meet my criteria?


Using the Find the Why tool can be a great way to write down your goals and make sure your career decisions line up to what you want.


4. Prepare to be wrong

You may have followed all of these different steps.

Unfortunately your career decision doesn’t turn out as you expected.

Something goes wrong along the way. Your boss hires you in, that boss seems amazing. You’ve got a great fit. And then they leave for some reason. Maybe they get head hunted.

In other words, that’s life.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You’re not going to be in that job forever. And maybe you’re in this job for a year. Maybe it’s only three months, and then you’re going to have to move on.

So, don’t burn your bridges in your other jobs.


Career decisions are difficult

They can really impact our career wellbeing by causing career anxiety.

Give yourself the tools to be able to make good decisions and take the pressure off yourself.

Bear in mind that you’re not always going to be able to make the right decision, whatever the right decision is.

In conclusion, every decision is an opportunity to learn. Make the best decision you can, but accept that things can go wrong.

For instance, a learning could be to ask different questions at your next job interview. Another learning could be to keep in touch with former colleagues.


Want some help making career decisions? Use our Find the Why tool

Be clear on what you want. The clarity of knowing what you want gives you criteria to make your career decisions. Use our Find the Why tool now.

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