Have you been thinking about changing careers? Maybe you’re thinking of taking the freelance route or putting up a business and if you are, you’re probably thinking of the pros and cons of pushing through. The countless options open to us today have muddled the art of being decisive.
The number of articles, books, and advice on how to choose the right career path mostly tells us to find out our passion first, then decide. This is good in a way. After all, who wouldn’t want to live doing heartfelt work you love, right?
The only problem with this is that it’s rarely the case that people know what their passion is or how to go about knowing their passion is. If you’re like me who wants a bit more meaty advice than just the hackneyed “find your passion” mantra then this article is for you.
So how do you really know when to act or postpone a particularly key career decision such as leaving the comforts of the corporate structure you’ve known for so long?
Opt For the Good Kind of Delay
Admit it or not, all of us put off deciding at some point in our lives, but to know whether putting off deciding your career path is the right choice, you have to be able to differentiate between good and bad delays.
Determining whether what your delays in deciding can be deemed as “good” or “bad” involves looking at your situation contextually. A delay is bad when it further creates doubt, uncertainty, and confusion for you. A delay is good when it gives you enough time to be informed.
Another way to differentiate good and bad delay is to examine your rationale behind it. If you’re delaying your decisions because you’re either not in the mood or you just have a poor concept of time then best believe it’s the bad kind of delay.
Postponing a decision so you can get all your facts straight and assess it against what you really want is a sensible choice. In fact, it can actually help you process any feelings of uncertainty.
Good delays is all about making the best out of the time you’re allotting to that decision. If you want a surefire way to waste time then there’s no better way to do that than to get bogged down with countless options that keep you from finally making your mind.
Simply put, good postponement is intentionally choosing to delay choosing so you can decide on the option that will bring the most value to your life.
Actions Before Feelings
Nope, this is not about a logic vs emotions debate. It’s about acting first and your feelings sorts itself after.
If postponing a decision doesn’t cut it for you and you’re still overwhelmed with any potential negative outcome then this is the way to go. You don’t really need to feel completely positive before you act because your feelings will conform to your actions.
Many decisions come with uncertainty, doubts, and other kinds of misgivings. The thing with choosing to go through only favorable feelings is that it makes you a slave to your emotions. You’re subject to the whims of your heart instead of you being the master of your own emotions. The consequences are almost always less than pleasant and often serious.
If you always rely on feeling “positive” before settling on anything then you’re only setting yourself up for failure because not all decisions can wait.
Once you start progress on a specific decision then your much more likely to improve your emotional state because you no longer have a nagging thought at the back of your mind. So don’t focus on feeling good first so you can decide, get to hashing out your options so you can start feeling good that you’re making progress toward a better, informed decision.
Be realistic about time
A person who’s time-poor is someone who often finds himself or herself under pressure just to be able to decide quickly.
Having a poor sense of time means lacking an objective view of time. These are people who insist on drawing up their own timeline irrespective of the consequences it may bring. Having a defective concept of time can mean that they also have a poor grasp of reality because they refuse to acknowledge that they’re bound to the rules of time just like everybody else.
The first step to remedying this is to acknowledge that not all decisions can wait forever. Sooner or later, there won’t be enough time to do everything you’ve set out to do. You have to know the things that are important and urgent right now and decide on that.
As you grow older, there’s less room to make up for wasted time.
When you’re not particular at the timeframe of your decisions, then you might lose on many opportunities that can result from a time well-spent on many valuable endeavors. By accepting your limitations as a person, you’re actually freeing yourself to allot more time on the things that give you the best value in return.
The key here is to accept your time and energy limitations. You might have a lot of career ideas or business ventures worth pursuing, but they won’t be worth nil if they’re not acted on.
This just further affirms that not all decisions are made of equal importance so assess your time with the same lens. Give your time to the decisions that mean more gain for you and not the other way around.
Know What Works For You
People are inherently different, some do well making quick decisions, some do well making their decisions over an extended period of time. Long story short—it’s a spectrum, not black and white. Ultimately, you have to do your own personal experimentation to find out what works best for you.
Sometimes a quick decision is required in order for you to progress. If you’re stuck in the process of overthinking things, then you could potentially miss any opening for success. An immediate decision doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being reckless. Sometimes, it just means that you’re making a choice based on the current information available to you.
What I came to know is that overcoming indecision is a process that requires dedication and commitment to sustain your progress, and part experience to know what works for you.
As the boss of your own time, you actually hold the power to do more with whatever time you have. You’re the one who wields your time and energy, and you can re-channel your ways to a better decision-making process as you see fit given the right knowledge.
Focus on the Gains, Not the Losses
They say that the best way to predict the future is to create it. No one knows what the future holds and the truth of the matter is, certainty can never be a part of the decision-making process.
No matter the risks a decision entails, your mindset should be focused on the opportunities you can gain. It has been found that having this kind of mindset makes you less likely to experience regret or satisfaction.The best way to predict the future is to create it. Click To Tweet
Risk is an ever present factor in every decision. What overthinking does is that it creates more doubt to the point that people get scared of all and any risks involved. Thinking over things is good in the sense that it gives you lots of ideas o pursue, but nothing is ever implemented.
Slowing down to assess information doesn’t have to be a bad thing. However, there should be a limit to how long you think over things.
What Being Decisive Really Means
In today’s technology dependent era, a lot of people mistake being decisive as the information they consume.
Many of the information out there are definitely useful. But others use it as a crutch to delay their decisions while many others are probably overwhelmed with all the possibilities that could happen.
The drawback of having this much access to information at any time and anywhere makes it easier to slip into ineffective thinking habits. Sometimes, working with more information isn’t necessarily about being informed — it’s about lulling yourself into thinking that you’re making some progress in your decision-making process.
Although majority gather info in order to make a headway in their decisions, some are actually just whiling away their time never fully intending whether to make a decision or not.
They like entertaining the different possibilities in their mind but never gets around to ever deciding. I mean, if you get to pick the real thing or the envisioned thing, what would you choose? Most would answer the first. It makes sense because isn’t putting real value in our lives one of the utmost things we should be aspiring for?
A much better decisive plan is one that builds on the information you’ve gathered. Then, apply that information so you can make the best decision possible. In the end, it’s a psychological battle—one that’s internal, not external (the information you consume). The bottom line is, a career plan has to allow for mistakes because no one will get it right all the time.
This is when progress happens, not when you aim for perfection.
Have you been undecided about changing careers? Why or why not?
Also published on Medium.