We often talk about decision-making within this blog because so many decision points come up within a career. We have discussed how people can drift into decisions and how one can use a prioritizing grid in order to help make a decision. Making a decision is a highly personal experience, but if you are facing your next leap into the unknown, it can often help to do the following:
- Try it on for a while.
Imagine yourself in both scenarios. Really try to adopt your decision, even if just for a day or for a whole week. How do you feel? Anxious? Well, try to remember that all change triggers anxiety. Even positive, exciting life changes are stressful. So, if you feel anxious, try to tune in to that emotion. Is it an expansive almost energetic anxiety or is it one that feels constrictive to you?Still unsure? Flip a coin! Seriously, it has helped many people make a decision and not because they simply went with the outcome associated with heads or tails, but because in that instant as the coin was falling to the ground, they had a flash of a feeling. A gut feeling which helped them realize what result they were hoping for and thus helped them to make a decision.
- Become a thinking decider versus a feeling decider.
Decision making is inextricably linked to emotions. Researchers discovered this when they found that patients who suffered damage to their orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in processing emotions, also often lost their decision-making abilities. It will be almost impossible to make a decision without even subconsciously factoring in your own emotions and feelings. Remember though that emotions ebb and flow. You can feel fantastic about work in the morning and leave at night thinking I have to find a new job. Remember the often fleeting nature of feelings when you are making a decision. You will feel much more confident in your decision if you look beyond your emotions to the actual facts. Thinking deciders often sit down and makes pros and cons lists. Try this out as an activity, but make sure you only list facts.
- Remember this doesn’t have to be your last decision.
There is a bit of a gamble in every decision. You can weigh your options carefully; however, there will always be an element of risk when you choose one thing over another. And, sometimes the only way to know is to actually take the risk and decide once and for all. Many people relentlessly worry though. What if I make the wrong decision? Be kind to yourself as you go through this process. If it’s the right decision, fantastic! If it turned out to be the wrong decision, then remember this. You can always make a new decision later on and change the once decided trajectory. Sometimes remembering that every decision doesn’t have to be final can help alleviate the burden of making that initial choice.
Career choice and decision-making will be an ongoing process throughout your life, so try to find peace in the ambiguity and continually work to find an approach that works best for you.