Decisions, Decisions! How They Impact Your Career

Chances are good that you’ve recently made or will soon be making one or more decisions that will impact your career success, although you might not realize that if your decisions are made without looking at them from all sides first. Being clear about what you’re aiming for in terms of career results is sound advice–a good place to start. Ben Stein (an American writer, lawyer, actor and commentator) put it this way: “The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.”

Career Decision-Making Has Two Parts

The first part is to do what Stein suggested; that is, determine what your goals are–both long-term and short-term career goals matter. And be as clear as you can about what you decide you want from your career. Fuzzy thinking on this score could cause you a lot of professional and personal grief in the long run.

Look carefully at the factors that are influencing your decisions. For instance, are you attracted by the idea of a job in a career field that tends to pay big salaries and not looking so much at the price to be paid to get and keep one of those jobs? Does the apparent glamor of a particular choice generate so much excitement that you’re ready to leap into pursuing it without careful thought?

Among other considerations, ask yourself these questions:

  • What will I need to do to be competitive in this career field?
  • What are the expectations for sustained growth (plenty of opportunity) in this field, industry, etc.?
  • What demands will such a job make on my personal life, and am I reasonably sure I’m prepared to accept that?
  • What’s my Plan B if my first choice turns out to be unsatisfactory?

Career Decision-Making: After the Choice is Made

The second part of career decision-making involves actually deciding. Waffling back and forth is ineffective at best and can present you as indecisive or a “non-decider” to other people, possibly including your boss and potential future bosses. The impact such behavior can have on your career success is not pretty! Once you’ve made a decision–chosen a direction to pursue–you need to stick with it and give it your best shot if you expect it to work out well.

This is not to say that you can’t change your mind down the road a ways, if there’s a compelling reason to do so. However, that shouldn’t happen often if you’ve thought decisions through carefully beforehand and put your best effort into executing them.

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