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Don't try to make the "perfect" career decision

12 May 2021

I often find that the differentiator between people who report having flourishing careers and those who do not, is in the speed and frequency with which they make career decisions.  People with flourishing careers seem to be good at making, then remaking, then adjusting, the decisions they make.  This does not mean they backtrack on decisions, but more that they stay responsive and flexible.

No decision in your career will be the perfect one.  No one decision you make is going to change everything and make your career perfect.  Instead getting fast at the cycle of making a decision, reflecting on the success (or not) of that decision, then making new decisions in light of what you learn, is a critical skill.

decision - action - reflection - learn

There are basic rules for making good decisions that apply when making career decisions:

  • Have a vision or the future and know the values that guide you
  • Make small regular decisions in the context of that vision and those values
  • Let the small (even tiny) decisions build up so you rarely have 'big' decisions to make
  • Make good enough decisions - know what your decision making criteria are, but don't expect anything to fully meet your criteria - looking for perfect is more likely to lead to indecision and dissatisfaction with the ultimate decision
  • When you make regular ongoing career decisions you benefit from a sense of agency and a boost in mood.  This leads to more confidence to make more decisions.  Making more career decisions leads to more flexibility and greater responsiveness.  It is a virtuous upward spiral.

Without this spiral lots of things can feel like they are up in the air.  Worry about lots of things up in the air leads to reactiveness in the amygdala (the emotional centre of the brain), increased feelings of stress and anxiety, and a tougher time setting goals and making decisions.  A not so virtuous downward spiral.

Start small.  What tiny decision could you make in service of your career today?  Then what decision could you make tomorrow?

If you are unsure where to start check out other articles on this blog. There are many that will help you update your resume, find your strengths, craft your role, expand your network, perform well in interviews, know your purpose, find new jobs, set career goals, and lots and lots more.

Little decisions, one by one...

As always, wishing you a flourishing career.


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