See how to make better career decisions. (2023)


Making decisions is hard, especially when you're trying to make major career decisions. This five-step framework can help you focus on what matters most.

  1. What do your feelings tell you? Think about the type of work you are doing now or the type of work you plan to do. Brainstorm and jot down ideas for the different careers you are considering. What feelings arise?
  2. What is important to you? Get a psychological assessment or do an exercise to help you identify your values. When you understand your values, you can make decisions directly related to the things that are important to you.
  3. What is important to other people? Just as it's important to be clear about what's important to you, it's also important to consider how your decision will affect your loved ones. Ask them for their own thoughts, contributions, and feelings.
  4. What is the reality of the situation? Be objective and consider the realities surrounding your options, not your assumptions. Otherwise, you could end up with false expectations or be disappointed with your choices.
  5. How do I put the pieces together? After answering these four questions, review all the information you just discovered. You must come to your final decision. If not, repeat the steps above.

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Choosing your college major, picking the perfect career path, trying to decide whether to quit your job and move to a new one—decisions like these can feel overwhelming. We all spend a lot of time at work and we all want (and deserve) to love what we do. But the path to this work is not always clear.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to find what's right for you. Use this five-step framework to narrow down your options and focus on what matters most.

1. What do your feelings tell you?

If you want to find a rewarding career, it must match yours.Values. Your feelings can help you recognize this, even if you haven't consciously named these values.

Think of it this way: when you are faced with an important decision, what is the first thing that goes through your mind and body? Before logic kicks in, you usually experience strong emotion. Rest assured. Your emotions are closely linked to who you are and can provide important information about your identity and values ​​that can guide your actions, but they are sometimes outside your awareness.

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So think about the type of work you are doing now or the type of work you plan to do. Brainstorm and jot down ideas for the different careers you are considering. What feelings arise? If you find yourself feeling angry, sad, or even fearful and anxious as you look at the options on your list, consider these red flags. On the other hand, if you're feeling happy or excited, that's an indicator that what you're considering could be a good decision.

If you can't think of anything that evokes positive emotions, go back to the drawing board. Keep looking at different careers until you find something that matches your emotions.

2. What's important to you?

Once you've connected with your emotions, you're ready for the next step: consciously identifying your values.

What are values? They are simply defined as what really matters to you, or your "why"..“That is, they can help you define why a certain decision seems more meaningful to you than another.

When you understand your "why," you can make decisions that align directly with the things that are important to you—decisions that will satisfy you in the long run.

For example, suppose you are trying to decide between two jobs you have been offered. One is a high-paying job at a company and the other is a job at a non-profit with a decent but lower salary. Taking the time to identify your values ​​and realizing that helping others is one of them, but not making money at the top of your list, will make your decision to work at the nonprofit a little easier.

There are several ways to find out what your values ​​are. One of the best is through formal psychological assessments. my favorite is thisenneagram personality testbecause the results describe your personality traits and motivations in the context of ideal circumstancesYStressful situations that can give you a more holistic view of who you are. But there are also a number of other reliable resources:DISCOUNT,LIFO survey,Big Five Personality Test,16 personality factor test, YHogan's Motive Value Preference Inventory (MVPI). All of these tests are backed by science and extensive research.

If you don't want to take a formal assessment, there are a few other options.the passion testby Janet and Chris Atwood asks a series of questions and lets you rank your interests from most important to least important. Examples of these questions are: "On what subject could I read 500 books or watch countless videos without getting bored?" and "If I had complete financial abundance to do anything with, how would I spend my time?" It may sound simple. , but when you remember your interests directly and honestly, you can identify values ​​that previously seemed elusive.

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3. What is important to other people?

None of us exist in a vacuum. Just as it's important to be clear about what's important to you, it's also important to consider how your decision will affect your loved ones, because it likely will.

Whether it's a partner, family member or friend, ask people who will be affected by your decisions about their own thoughts, opinions and feelings. This is especially important when making a career decision. These decisions often have a strong impact on your finances and life situation, as well as the time you can devote to specific relationships.

For example, let's say you're offered a job that you want aligns with your values ​​and requires you to travel two hours to work each day. You may be fine with this personally, but you must recognize that you will be spending this time with your partner, family, or friends. Therefore, your decision affects not only you, but also your loved ones.

This doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't take the job. However, it could mean that you need to take the time to negotiate the offer to better align it with your values ​​and those of those around you. In that case, you can ask the hiring manager for a flexible working arrangement where you only come to the office three days a week to limit your daily commute.

4. What is the reality of the situation?

When you ask yourself this question, you want to be sure you're making your decisions for the right reasons. You want to be sure that the decision you make is based on correct data and not a misinterpretation of your situation. Otherwise, you could end up with false expectations or disappointed with your decision.

To answer this question, you must be objective and consider the reality of your choices, not your assumptions.

For example, let's say you're thinking about changing jobs because you think your co-workers aren't friendly. Before making the big decision to leave your company, ask yourself, "Do I have information to support my rationale, or am I just guessing?" Your coworkers may seem hostile, but they're actually shy. Perhaps they are too focused on work to socialize. Or maybe you're right and they are really obnoxious. You won't be sure unless you step back and look at the situation objectively.

Write a description of the experiences you've had that supports your rationale, but don't add interpretations. It just describes what happened. Taking the time to stop and describe will help you see things more clearly, and you can apply this tactic to any kind of situation.

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If you are still in doubt as to whether you have reached the correct conclusion, check your conclusions with someone you trust, eg B. a friend or adviser.

5. How do I assemble the parts?

If you've answered these four questions, you've laid the groundwork for an optimal decision. But one last step is missing: putting all the pieces together.

How do you do?

Start by reviewing all the information you just discovered. For example, when trying to decide on a career, think about the emotions you felt when considering your possible career choice. Ask yourself: "How do I feel and why do I feel this way?"

Then check your stats. Does the career choice that excites you align with these values? What about the values ​​of your loved ones? That should help narrow down your list.

Finally, allow yourself a reality check. Are there factors that influence your decision based on assumptions rather than information?

It will take time, but if you give each of these points your full attention, you should be able to make a rational and appropriate decision about which career path is best for you, regardless of your current situation. Plus, you'll know on a deeper level that the decision you're making is completely in line with your values, your emotions, yourself and the people you love. And when it comes to a big decision like finding the perfect career, that's exactly how it should be.

Editor's Note: This structure was adapted frombetter choiceby Timothy Yen.

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