Keep a career journal
3 October 2022
I write a lot about the value of making decisions in your career - here, here and here. Careers are infinitely more healthy when you make proactive decisions rather than have decisions forced upon you because of things such as frustration, lack of growth, conflict, or declining relevance.
I highly recommend a process of making considered decisions about your career at least every six months in a process called Career Maintenance. The more you make proactive decisions in service of your career the better you will get at making these decisions, with the consequence being more career flourishing.
One thing that can support you to make even better career decisions is a Career Decision Journal.
In a Career Decision Journal you keep track of past decisions you have made in service of your career. For example, the decision to take on a project, the decision to get a mentor, the decision to move to a new role, the decision to expand your LinkedIn network...
Memories are notoriously unstable and prone to hindsight bias. When you record your career decisions regularly, then come back to record the outcome, you cut through the noise and can get data that is valuable for informing future career decisions.
It is not easy to keep a Career Decision Journal, but if you are in a growth phase in your career, or if you notice that your decisions have a pattern of not working out, I highly recommend it.
Here is what I recommend you record in your Career Decision Journal:
- The Decision you have made
- The date you make the decision
- What you hope is resolved or made better by the decision
- What you expect to happen as a result of the decision
- Why you expect the result to happen
- Other things happening at the same time
- At least three emotions you feel about the decision
- Possible barriers that might limit the success of the decision
- What else you could have done if you hadn't made this particular decision
Also mark in your calendar a review date when you will come back and record the outcome of the decision.
Doing this helps you see your decision patterns and habits. It helps you see the dominant criteria you are using to make decisions, and it supports you to go beyond the obvious first thoughts to the more useful underlying thoughts. The act of recording a decision in a Career Decision Journal can also support you to get fresh thinking about an intended decision as you are making it.
As always, wishing you a flourishing career.