I receive a lot of questions from clients, blog readers, and podcast listeners, about decisions they’re facing in their careers.
Career decisions are right up there among some of the toughest decisions you face in life. Personally, I think career decisions belong in the top 3 of potentially paralyzing decisions, right alongside decisions that impact romantic and family relationships, and your finances. So, it makes total sense to me that people would seek external guidance and input.
The problem for many of us when it comes to big, potentially life-altering decisions, is that choosing one path can feel like we’re shutting the door forever on another path (or multiple other options). It can feel like we’re losing more options than we’re gaining when we finally settle on a choice.
Also, what usually keeps people stuck in indecision, is the barrage of considerations for anyone and everything potentially impacted by our decision.
If you’ve ever stayed in a situation waaay too long because you didn’t want to hurt or disrupt other people, you know exactly what I mean.
As a recovering, lead-with-my-heart kind of decision maker, I know that purely relying on emotions and what “feels right” can result in poor decisions or no decision at all. Negative emotions – like fear, anger, and guilt – often override our logical thoughts, and steer us toward seemingly safe (yet often self-sabotaging) decisions.
The trick is to get outside yourself.
There are many different strategies you can use to do this, but ultimately, you want to think of yourself as separate from yourself. I know, it sounds a bit strange right?
Well, it’s exactly what Lebron James did in 2010 when he faced a big career decision. When he chose to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and sign with the Miami Heat, he ticked-off a lot of people. His hometown, Cleveland fans felt betrayed and disrespected.
If James had relied on his emotions, he may have stayed in Cleveland out of guilt (keeping his fans and supporters happy) or fear (Would Miami accept him? Would the gamble of changing teams payoff with a championship?).
But he didn’t. Lebron James took an outsider, third-person perspective.
As he infamously said, “I wanted to do what’s best for Lebron James and I want to do what makes Lebron James happy.”
James stepped outside himself, put distance between his emotions and the decision, and made a rational, career decisions that put his best interests first.
So, how can us mere mortals gain this external kind of perspective?
You can think about yourself as your best friend or your child and consider how you might advise them in a similar situation.
This way, you’re still applying your own values, but you’re removed from the internal, emotions that can cloud your judgement. It can also help eliminate any biases you may have about yourself – especially if you tend to have different standards for yourself than others (as women, we usually accept situations that we wouldn’t expect or ask anyone else to put up with).
Another tactic is to think about someone you respect or aspire to be, and the decision they would make. I know coaches who think about the choice Oprah or Tony Robbins would make in their situation.
I often use my sister as my guidepost. What would my sister do in this situation? How would she handle the decision? What would she advise me to do? I’ve found using my sister, Mandy, as my third-person decision maker especially helpful because not only do I admire her and the life she’s built for herself, but we share similar values, morals, and beliefs; so, I know I won’t stray from the woman I want to be when I’m faced with a tough choice.
You need to find a way to prioritize what’s best for you above all else. Not what others want you to do, not what will make others happy, and not what others expect you to do.
It is, after all, your life.
The founder of Kick Glass Career Coaching, Tammy Banfield is a professional resume writer and certified career coach who specializes in helping talented and ambitious women advance their careers. Tammy has helped over 600 career seekers from around the world secure their ideal job - jobs where they are valued, fulfilled, and well paid. Connect with Tammy on LinkedIn or at her Website.