One of my career clarity coaching clients, let’s call him Rick, came to his coaching call feeling challenged about a career decision he needed to make. Rick told me that this particular career decision was really important. He wanted to find more ease and peace with this decision and with decision-making in general. Just like Rick, you may be struggling with making decisions. Learn from Rick’s story how you can find your confidence with making decisions.
Rick’s career had changed over the past few years. He used to be engaged with building capacity in communities. Rick was very passionate about his role at that time. He was witnessing communities transforming and flourishing as a direct result of his work. Unfortunately, his role had become more administrative. Rick now felt frustrated and disconnected from his passion and sense of purpose. Rick knew that something needed to change, but he was struggling with his decision-making process.
Become Aware of Your Decision Challenges
Rick usually panics every time he needs to make an important decision. Thoughts like “What, if I make the wrong decision?” and “What, if I’ll regret this decision?” swirl through his mind. How about you? Are you also scared of making “wrong” decisions?
Do You Seek Advice When You Need to Make a Decision?
To escape his own swirling mind, Rick habitually asks friends and colleagues what they would do in his situation. Unfortunately, this strategy only leads to further confusion, because Rick usually receives plenty of conflicting advice. He typically feels the weight of how others may perceive his decision. What about you? Is seeking approval also clouding your perception of what is right for you?
Do You Analyze Pros and Cons When Making a Decisions?
Rick’s next step is to write a long list of pros and cons to analyze what would be the best decision. However, Rick realizes that his analysis doesn’t give him the confidence he is looking for. How about you? Deep down you too probably know that it’s not about numbers. Let’s face it. Even if there are ten logical cons and only one heartfelt pro, your heart would still like to take that action, but your logical mind would tell you not to. So, just like Rick, you stay stuck in decision-paralysis.
Do You Tend to Delay Decisions?
Because of this inner turmoil, Rick tends to further delay the decision-making process, secretly wishing that the decision will be made for him. Just like Rick, you too, may be delaying important decisions.
What’s YOUR Current Approach to Making Decisions?
Take a moment now, to notice your own challenges with making decisions. Think of a decision you need to make right now, maybe even a decision you’ve been delaying for some time. What is holding you back from making your decision? Notice your own inner and outer decision-making challenges. Just like Rick, you may wish to bring more ease and confidence to your decision making.
Acknowledge Your Self-Awareness
While Rick was aware of the agony, inner turmoil and stress he experienced with each decision-making process, he didn’t know how to approach decision making with greater ease and more confidence. That’s why he brought the topic to his coaching session.
After Rick had described his decision-making challenges, I acknowledged his tremendous self-awareness. It can be so frustrating to be aware of your deeply engrained patterns, without knowing how to shift them yet.
However, awareness of your self-sabotaging patterns, coupled with a desire for positive change and a willingness to explore are essential elements on your career clarity journey. Take a moment now to acknowledge your own awareness of your decision-making challenges.
Identify Your Decision Options
As I invited Rick to explore a different approach to decision making, he was eager to experiment. First, we established the different options Rick had identified for himself. Rick had come up with three possible ways forward and shared each scenario briefly.
One of the ideas Rick was toying with was to go back to school to do a Masters degree. Another option Rick saw was to stay in his current role with a focus on advancing into a higher leadership role. Rick’s third option was to resign from his current secure government job and commit fully to the consulting collective that he had been building on the side over the past few years.
Before you read any further, take a moment to jot down the options you are currently contemplating for your own decision-making challenge.
Act as If You Had Already Made a Decision
Next, I invited Rick to act out one scenario at a time, each time pretending that he had already made his decision and the scenario he was acting out, was the one he had decided on. I encouraged Rick to explore each scenario, as if he was playing a fun game.
Going Back to School Scenario
When I asked, which scenario he wanted to act out first, he responded with the Master’s degree option. “Great!” I said: “Imagine you’ve decided to pursue your Master’s degree, Rick. Where would be a good place in your room to act that out?” Rick sat down at his desk as if he was getting ready to write an assignment for his studies. I asked him what he was noticing in his body as he pretended to be engaged in his studies. Rick felt a bit of a buzzy feeling in his stomach and a heaviness in his heart. As we explored those sensations further, Rick realized that while he loved learning, he didn’t feel that another degree would get him into a career position, where he could witness tangible results of her work, every day.
After Rick had released her Master’s scenario, by moving her body and laughing out loud, we went on to act out the scenario of staying in his current job with a focus on advancing into a higher leadership position. As soon as Rick imagined himself in the role of her director, he felt a headache coming on. Rick realized that he would be even further removed from the tangible outcomes of his work. I congratulated Rick on his exquisite awareness and encouraged him to shake off this experience. Rick did a little dance on the spot to release this experience.
When we explored the scenario of Rick quitting his job and giving himself fully to the consulting collective, he felt drawn to stand up and move towards the window. As Rick gazed out of his window, he felt a sense of freedom and excitement. He knew that he was going to witness the positive direct results of his work. Rick felt butterflies in his stomach and quickly realized what a courageous step it would be to leave his secure, well-paying government job. How would he navigate the ebbs and flows of being a consultant?
Play Your Scenarios
Before you read any further, I encourage you to playfully act out one of your own scenarios in the spirit of “I’ve decided to take this path…”. As you act out your chosen scenario, notice how it feels in your body to pursue it. Take some notes and then shake off the experience, so that you can explore the next scenario fresh. One by one, explore each scenario you’ve identified as an option and write down your insights from each act.
Take a Step Back from Your Decision Options
Rick shook off the consultant scenario and moved to a neutral spot in his room, one he hadn’t used in any of the scenarios. “Let’s take a step back from all the scenarios and explore what you have learnt.” I encouraged Rick. “Imagine that you can look at these scenarios from a distance, seeing them as different possible paths. What do you notice about the different paths from this vantage point, Rick?”
After a long pause, Rick said that he could see two major straight roads stretching out into the far distance. Both of them looked very predictable, yet boring. Off to the side, he saw a path in the forest, he could only see the first few meters of the path. It that was lined with beautiful fir trees and he felt drawn to explore this path further. Rick knew this path represented the consultant collective and wanted to take this path.
Once you’ve explored all your scenarios, I encourage you to take a step back, move to a neutral spot in your room and imagine that you can look at all your scenarios from a distance. What do you notice about the different paths from this vantage point? Take some time to explore this meta perspective and let yourself harvest the insights.
Reach out for Support with Making Decisions
You may find that certain options are simply no longer options for you. Other options may emerge that you had previously not considered. You may find clarity about the path that is right for you and the decision you want to make. Or maybe you want to go back to explore further scenarios.
Just like Rick, you don’t have to do this alone, reach out for support and request your free career clarity consultation. When you get clear on the scenario that is right for you, you will know it in your bones. You will want to move in that direction, even if it is uncharted territory. The more you use this new way of making decisions, the more confident you will feel about decision making.