I received an interesting question through LinkedIn recently from a colleague who was struggling to make a decision about which career direction to take. See if you can relate:
“I have three opportunities and I don’t know which one to pick. I’ve really been paying attention to my greatness and honoring my greatness that you keep telling me to do. But now I’m stuck because I have three big choices, all of which are great, but now I find I can’t make this huge decision! Any advice?”
So you have the full context, here are the three options: (1) pursue his Ph.D., (2) accept a management promotion, or (3) take a headhunter’s offer to switch into a new industry with a growing start-up.
He was excited about all three of these options. All lead to very different but equally exciting future opportunities. When you have so much greatness, and you’re excited about all of them (but cannot do them all), how do you make such an important decision?
It’s a good problem to have, of course, but what he’s getting stuck in is what I see with lots of talented professionals: FOMO – fear of missing out. He’s concerned that if he doesn’t make the “right” choice (thinking there must be a right choice), then long term he may have regrets. He worries it’s all on his shoulders to figure out which option will ensure his career thrives. And, that he makes the choice that allows others important considerations – kids, spouse, lifestyle, location – are ideal too.
So how do you make career decisions when you have so many great options? Here are five tips:
What truly are your greatness – your talents, passions, and virtues? How does each option feel like a “natural” fit? How does each option uniquely position you for the next step that also fits with your greatness? Which option aligns best with what you’ve been building to in your life and you want to continue along that path? This is the Greatness Fit Test. Most often when I explore this with my clients, they find at least one option falls away as it’s what they “should” do or thought they wanted but really it was for ego, to please others, or they didn’t know themselves as well as they do now.
What problem(s) can you solve in each role? What solutions could you contribute? What do you feel most passionately about addressing? If you didn’t help solve it, how does that sit with you? Are you okay with someone else solving it in their own way or it not getting solved, or are you uniquely called to address it? Again, when we consider how you can serve by fixing a problem with your own take on the solution to that role, company or industry, one of the options tends to be lower on the list.
If this position and the opportunities it leads to was the last career move you could make, what legacy would it leave? What level of impact and influence will you have? What difference will you make? Is it the type of difference and magnitude that you’re satisfied with? Picture yourself on your retirement day, giving a speech about this very turning point in your career, what would you say? What was most important to you about the legacy you felt compelled to leave, and how did this career change move you one step closer to that legacy? Not every role has the same legacy magnitude; no doubt one of your options will leave less of a legacy or not the type that is most important to you.
If you were to capture each of the options, which are easiest to articulate? And what generates the greatest energy for you? In other words, write about it – journal, write a blog, create a LinkedIn post, or write a list. If the spoken word is more your thing, record yourself talking, be a guest on a podcast or talk about it with a friend. If you get even more energized articulating the role, what problem you solve, how it’s important, then you know you’re onto something. If you find your energy wains quickly, well, that’s a sign it might not satisfy you as long as the other options.
Bonus Tip: The other benefit of this tip is that you start producing content on your expertise. Carve out a niche for yourself, even if you work for someone else, by positioning yourself as a thought leader. You may start articulating yourself to make your decision, but keep it going so you get more and more known.
Can you live by your choices for a day? Whether it’s job shadowing, visiting campus, or a realistic job preview, experience what life might be like in different roles. You may think you know – you’re taking the same position for a different company or you’ve been to grad school before – but there’s nothing like seeing and experience it for yourself at that moment in your life to awaken your whole brain to the experience. Decisions can be very cerebral until we are feeling the reality.
Know someone going through a career or educational decision-making process? Why not share this with them! You can also visit the Cool Stuff Page for some resources!
Still stuck? I invite you to jump into my calendar for a virtual cup of coffee and a chat!