The Right Choice
June 25, 2013
Your career grows, changes and sometimes takes unexpected turns. Most times it is based upon what you do, your input, and where you see yourself in the next 10 years. By knowing what you want to do, you set yourself on the path to success. This week, we will discuss the career move. We all go through this in our career lives, so if you are prepared when your time to make a decision comes, it will be a snap.
From time to time, I hear from friends who are completely torn over a career decision. They have an offer in front of them and they worry themselves totally sick over trying to decide what to do. I recently went through this with a friend. "Well, this one has more money, but I have more stability over here, I like this job, I don't know anyone over there in the new city..."
When a career opportunity comes up, you will FIRST want to ask one question. "Does this get me CLOSER TO or FARTHER AWAY FROM my next and most pressing goal?" If that isn't enough, it is simply listing your priorities and assigning them an importance level on a 1-10 scale.
Let's take a case study. A while back, I heard that a friend had a chance to move up by taking a different job in a different city. But he is "afraid" because it's a slightly more unstable company, but the money is better. He calls me late at night and explains both the pros and cons of the new opportunity vs. staying where he is. He loves his current job but it doesn't pay enough money and he needs more income, but he's scared and doesn't really want to move. The new opportunity pays more, not a ton more, but enough to make his life better.
GO FOR THE SUMMARY JUDGMENT
The very first question I ask is, "Will taking this job move you CLOSER TO or FARTHER AWAY from your ultimate career goal path?" In 80% of these cases, the conversation ends there. If the person has defined goals, and they are willing to sacrifice to make those goals in the future, then the answer is simple. Do what moves you CLOSER to the next goal on the sheet. One-minute solution. If they do NOT have career goals, I will send them to make their goal list, because without it, you would always be torn on every single thing going forward. Call me back once you know where you are headed in your career.
If you have no career goals and are marking time waiting for something to move you, then you have chosen (maybe unknowingly, but you have chosen) to be controlled by forces outside of yourself. Companies, economy, bosses, co-workers, weather, whatever. In that case, as the old saying goes, "Hang on and try to enjoy the ride that someone else built!" Remember, we ultimately may not have the ability to control the circumstances we find ourselves in, but we can change how we RESPOND to the circumstances we are in. That's called leadership.
So, I said to him "Hey, Let's look at your list of career goals." He stammered around and at first couldn't answer, but it became clearer to him as I asked additional questions. He DID have his goals outlined, and they were pretty clear over the next 10 years. The answer here was that it looked like a LATERAL move, not really moving up, but doing a similar job in a new city for a bit more pay. He was being recruited to do what he already did very well. Makes perfect sense.
One of his goals was not to live in the new city, or do that job forever, but his #2 goal was a specific amount of money he wanted to make. He had started the old pros/cons on a sheet also, but I told him that as long as you were "unattached" or not infatuated with either side Pro or Con, those will always balance out since problems and opportunities never die, they simply change form. There are as many positives for him moving as there are negatives if he wants to be honest with himself. Likewise, just as many positives as negatives to staying where he is.
So the old "more positives will move me" does not apply, since there cannot be more positives, there can only be a path which moves you closer to or farther away from the journey you ultimately want to take - your pre determined goals. We already had his goal sheet. "You will choose CLOSER TO or FARTHER AWAY FROM," I told him. So we had to go one layer deeper - we also had to know the intensity of the attribute, not just whether it was an attribute or not. It's all about answering the intensity scale.
The Pros and Cons on a sheet are difficult because you will overload the PRO side with whatever you happen to be elated with at the moment, and suppress the negative, so I told him to throw that sheet away and go back to goal priorities ONLY. The goal priority that came in at the highest level of intensity would be the decision. I started walking him through the questions and applying the math.
How important is making this amount more money on a 1-10 scale? He said 8. How important is his current stability? He said 9. We went on like this until we had answered 20 basic but very important questions. Then we put them into two categories: Those that support GO and those that support STAY. Doesn't matter how many go into either category.
GETTING THE ANSWER
Once they were in the categories, we added them up and divided by the number in that category to come to a score for both GO and STAY based upon the proper weighting for intensity. It was close, but GO was the winner. He took the job, and that was four years ago. He loves it to this day. He was able to make more money, do a job he loved, and meet a whole new group of people who can help him later in his career life while still staying in basically the same place DISTANCE wise from his career goal sheet. His intensity of want eventually shut down his fear of change. That was what was holding him up, putting his decision into a "vapor lock" and causing him sleepless nights.
It's easy to make the right career choice if you know how to do it. Sometimes it is as easy as the closer/farther, but sometimes it's more difficult than that, and that's why I share this deeper technique with you. Make the right choice. Your career depends upon it!