Throughout our lives we’ll be faced with some tough career decisions. Commonly, you may find yourself asking these questions: Do we take a promotion that’ll entail more responsibility, travel and impact on the work-life balance? Do we take a career side-step because there doesn’t seem to be any progression opportunities in the role I am currently in? Should I get a degree in my field or participate in further study? Can I feasibly take a gap year?

These can be seemingly difficult to wrap our heads around and yet; we don’t want to take our decisions lightly. So, when faced with big career decisions, how can you make an informed decision?

In our latest careers feature, we look at ways in which you can tackle some life changing career decisions:

Consider your gut feeling

Initially you’ll have a lot of emotions when faced with a new opportunity. So, it’s important to look inwards when it comes to your decision making.

Try and distinguish the different emotions at play and what they’re telling you. Attempt to establish how you feel about this in the here and now- what is your gut telling you to do? Of course, a change will illicit butterflies and some feeling of anxiety initially, it’s only natural. Equally, you may be bubbling with excitement about the exciting new opportunity you’re presented with.

However you feel at this stage, don’t act impulsively. This is just one, crucial step, in the decision-making process. Give yourself a moment to digest and then consider the impact on the future.

Think about the future

Don’t just think about the decision your faced with in the here and now. Consider how this will impact you in the months and years to come. Suzy Welch famously goes by the 10-10-10 rule– how will you feel in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years?

How does this play into your career future and where you saw yourself? Consider how the change will impact your future earning potential. Will a gap year hold your career back by a few years? Etc.

Woman money

Considering the future in your decision making can sometimes make those tough decisions really simple. If you’re still unsure, consider the answers for your future in line with other factors.

Get analytical

Gather as much information as you can to help you make informed decision. Put on your analytical hat and obtain the crucial factors needed to help you make that decision; cost, time, travel, holiday, impact on family, demand etc. are all valid considerations.

Like with the above (considering your future), research the factors that are important to you. There are plenty of studies, thought pieces, perspective and reviews of experiences out there that can help you with decision making.

It’s important to consider the implications of change as well as the benefits; particularly if the description of a new opportunity wows you. Once you’ve gathered all of your data, a pros cons list can be extremely beneficial to help you weigh up the options.

Talk it out

When you’ve gathered all the information you need, talk to your partner, parents and close friends to get an outsider perspective. Importantly, if you’ve got a mentor, run your thoughts and ideas past them.

In some instances, it may be beneficial to discuss your concerns or queries with your bosses to help you make an informed decision.

Are you in a career rut?

But be careful not to let others influence your decision too much. Don’t be afraid to take a leap because they wouldn’t. You’re very likely in a different sector, role, have different experience and education etc. that will set you on very different paths. Listen to their thoughts and feedback but take note of their experience in bigger changes and avoid focusing on their opinions- unless of course, your decision will impact the family.

Before committing

You should now be pretty well armoured with everything you need to make that final decision and commit one way or the other.

You’ve considered the future; you’ve done your research on the factors that are important to you, you’ve weighed up the pros and cons and you’ve sat down with your friends and family to talk it out.

So how do you feel now?

Once you’ve got all of your data, its important to reflect inwards once more and consider what your gut is telling you. Are you comfortable with what your research is telling you? Are you anxious? Excited? Full of dread? Ultimately, your findings should inform your feelings. If you’re well prepared, you should feel comfortable, possibly slightly nervous and excited with the path you’re going to take, which are all very normal. In which case you’re ready to take the plunge.

If something still doesn’t feel right, try and establish what it is and take action to help quell that feeling.  If it doesn’t go away, perhaps now isn’t the right time for change.

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