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Making Career Decisions

Successful career management depends on good decision-making ability. A myriad of approaches can be adopted. These include:

  • Planned – Using rational thought to weigh the facts, obtain the necessary information and explore consequences.
  • Impulsive – This is the “leap before you look” approach - or giving little thought to the decision before taking action.
  • Intuitive – Making the decision based on a “gut feeling” and striving to preserve harmony.
  • Compliant – This is when a person is content to let someone else decide and typically does not assert her/his own preferences.
  • Delaying – Avoiding thinking about it or taking action. The decision maker procrastinates and hopes that something happens on its own to avoid making a decision.
  • Defaulting – “Playing it safe” by choosing the direction with the lowest level of risk.
  • Paralytic – Experiencing complete indecision and fear, resulting in the inability to act.

In addition to your decision-making approach, a whole range of influencing factors can also impact you. Influencing factors include:

  • External Factors – such as family expectations, responsibilities, cultural pressure, male/female stereotypes and survival needs.
  • Internal Factors – such as lack of self-confidence, fear of change, fear of making the wrong decision and fear of ridicule.

Structured Decision Making

You can enhance your career decision making ability by following a structured framework. The five-step process laid out below is a useful method for doing this.

Five Step Process

  • Define your goals and list objectives for each goal.
  • Gather relevant information.
  • Review alternatives.
  • Assess likely outcomes as objectively as possible.
  • Establish plan of action.

Good decisions are almost always the result of a well thought out process and a willingness to take calculated risks. Understanding this is critical. However, good decision making also requires you to dedicate time to the process and to gather and use lots of information.