“I SHOULD be able to figure this out myself,” my new coaching client growled as we talked about making a big career decision. “I make hard choices all the time at work. But why does it get so freeking hard when it’s about ME?”
And then I heard the sound of a head landing on the desk.
This is how a lot of successful professionals feel when they know they need to make a big career decision.
Sound like you? If so, don’t give yourself a cubicle concussion. Let’s talk about the true reasons that are stopping you from making a big career decision.
What’s Stopping You From Making a Big Career Decision? 3 Reasons
Reason #1: You have too many choices.
In his groundbreaking book, “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less,” psychologist Barry Schwartz tackled a great mystery of our time:
Why, when we have so much, do we feel more depleted and lacking than ever?
The answer is simple.
When we have too many choices, our default is to make NONE or stick with what we already know.
So how does this apply to your career?
You might be saying, “Hey, Darcy, this isn’t my problem. I don’t have ANY choices. There’s no market for my biotech/journalism/macrame skills in my town. I’m stuck.”
Oh, my friend. Sigh.
You have more choices than you think.
As an example, here just six real-life choices you have in front of you right now in your career (and the list could be a lot longer):
- Stay where you are and learn to like it.
- Stay where you are and complain about it.
- Stay where you are and do the work to create change.
- Decide it’s time to leave and do nothing.
- Decide it’s time to leave, send a few resumes out, and wait for the perfect job to fall in your lap (convincing yourself “hey, if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen.”)
- Decide it’s time to leave, wait for something to happen, and when it doesn’t, decide to stay where you are and like it.
We slip into these thoughts and don’t realize they are actually choices.
And real-life smarty-pants people like you and me are often unintentionally making these choices all the time. (I did, and it kept me stuck for years. Don’t be like Darcy.)
Plus, there are hundreds more choices that branch off from those initial choices. Open one door and ten others appear.
And I’m being conservative.
You not only have TOO many possible career choices, but if you’ve been at all successful in your career so far, you actually have TOO many paths to explore, TOO many possibilities, and TOO many voices telling you what to do.
So that’s one reason why it’s so hard to decide.
(FYI, there’s help. In our online course, “Should I Stay or Go?,” I teach how to actually limit your choices–based on parameters unique to you–so you can move forward and decide. Find out more and get started today here.)
Reason #2: You’re asking the wrong questions.
- “How should I format my resume?”
- “What color shirt should I be wearing in my picture on LinkedIn?”
- “Should I include my graduation year on my profile, or not?”
If you’re expecting that these kinds of questions will move you toward your next career opportunity, please, please stop.
You’re just wasting your time.
You may feel like these are productive things to know or do, but they’re not. At least not right now, and not for you.
With the vast landscape of information available to us (see reason #1 above), it’s so easy to start climbing like monkeys up these information trees, seeking the sweetest banana.
Asking—and wasting time trying to answer the wrong questions–makes us feel like we’re doing something.
We mistake activity for progress.
You will be smarter than that.
Reason # 3: You don’t know what you want.
Baseball’s Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”
When I wasn’t happy where I was, I did what everybody tells you to do—to get your resume together and apply for jobs. (I was really good at reason #2 above.)
And I got interviews. And even offers.
But each time an offer came in, something in my gut told me it wasn’t just right.
In hindsight, I realized those roles were too much like what I’d already been doing.
Same Titanic with different deck chairs.
I realized what I really hungered for was a bigger, more dramatic change in how I spent my life at work.
And after a lot of wasted time, I finally realized I didn’t know where I was going. What I wanted. What “next” would look like for me.
So I learned. And after I learned, I’ve practiced. And after I’ve practiced, I’ve taught. And then learned more from people just like you about what works in today’s new world of work. (That’s why I keep teaching.)
The good news is that we can get past these reasons getting in our way of making a big career decision. Because now that you understand why, you can start focusing on how.
YOUR TURN: What’s getting in YOUR way of making your next big career decision? Share your story on our Facebook page.
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