Advice and approaches to make the decision-making process a bit smoother Decision making is a lifelong skill which you need throughout your career journey – and it’s not always easy! Whether you’re choosing whether to do a part-time job, deciding what types of work interest you most, choosing between job offers or making any other career-related decision, sometimes your usual way of deciding things just isn’t working for you. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You can only make decisions based on what you know at the time – and that’s much better than no decision at all. Breaking the process down makes it clearer how you are thinking and can help you reach decisions with confidence. If you are struggling to move forwards because you are torn between too many different options, here are some approaches you can try. If you tend to make decisions the same way but this time you feel really “stuck”, try a different approach. Here are some approaches to try. Career anchor theory In this blog, Alasdair McMillan, Careers Consultant, provides an excellent overview of a career theory, Career Anchors, which can help you to understand what ‘shape’ you want your career to have: Inform.ed blog - The ‘shape’ of you – using Career Anchors to understand how your career should look Visualise the decision as already made Are you good at convincing yourself of something? This activity is good for people with lots of imagination, or who want to have a go at a visualisation exercise. If you are struggling to make a decision – try pretending you have made it. For a day or two, your job is to act as if the decision is already taken and you will be going to Australia for a 12 month working holiday (for example!) Live it and feel it as if it is happening to you now. Write down how you feel now you have made the decision. A 'mathematical' method of decision making Simply comparing the advantages and disadvantages of each option doesn’t take into account how strongly you feel about certain issues. Assigning a weighting to each advantage or disadvantage which reflects your strength of feeling takes this into account. Here's an example: Job A - in next town, good pay, study for professional qualifications before possible promotion Job B - some distance away, pay very good but promotion slow In this example, pay is really important so gets a weighting of 4 while meeting people was less important. Pay x4 Chances of Promotion x3 Near Home x3 Meeting People x1 Analysing the opportunities The next step is to assess how well each of the opportunities addresses the factor you feel are important. In this example it uses a scale of +2 for very well, to -2 very little. Job A Job B Pay +1 +2 Promotion +1 -1 Near Home -1 -2 Meeting People +1 +1 Reaching a decision Combining the assessment of how important different factors are, with how well each opportunity addresses each factor, allows us to come up with an indication of how suitable each opportunity is. Job A Job B Pay x4 4 x 1 = 4 4 x 2 = 8 Promotion x3 3 x 1 = 3 3 x -1= -3 Near Home x3 3 x -1 = -3 3 x -2 = -6 Meeting People x1 1 x 1 = 1 1 x 1 = 1 TOTALS 5 0 Adding up the totals for each factor shows that Job A is more suitable than Job B. Often we are making these judgments subconsciously. Breaking the process down in this way makes it clearer how we are thinking and may help us reach decisions with confidence. Reframing the decision If you are struggling with a decision you need a new way of looking at the problem. These questions help you reconsider your decision-making dilemma with a different perspective. Sometimes all it takes is a friend, colleague or a Careers Consultant to ask you a question you hadn’t thought of – which really helps you untangle your thoughts. Here is a list of questions you can use as prompts – not all will be appropriate or relevant to your particular situation, but see if any help ‘jog’ your thoughts along. Is this the “right” conclusion? Why am I making these assumptions? Why do I think this is the “right” thing to do? Is this really based on all the facts? What is my primary motive as I make this decision? What sacrifices will I need to make, and what benefits outweigh these sacrifices? Whose strong influence am I feeling upon my decision, and shall I allow that? What is the worst result my decision can bring, and can I accept that? What safety net will I have if nothing goes as planned? When am I going to stop thinking about this decision and do something? Am I asking the wrong question? Am I missing something? Is there a pattern? Who do I need to be in the future? What if I’m wrong? Will today’s easy option become tomorrow’s dead end? What might happen if I stepped out of my comfort zone? Is the answer that I want too simplistic? What do I owe it to myself to attempt? Who can help me to look at this in a different way? Will this always be as important to me as it seems to be now? Why don’t I like the answer I’ve already got? What aspects of myself have I yet to discover? Is that just how I would like things to be? What could I lose if I don’t take the gamble? If I risk and lose, could I still gain something? Does that change the risk? Am I trying to justify a decision I’ve already made?