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Published on April 10, 2019

How to Make Career Decisions That You Will Not Regret for Life

How to Make Career Decisions That You Will Not Regret for Life

We have become so obsessed with progressing quickly to reach our career goals that we try to avoid making any bad career moves as best we can. The problem with this is that avoiding making decisions we fear we’ll regret actually inhibits our ability to grow and learn.

Trying to be so careful and stay on the one road we’ve pinned all our career progression steps along, we don’t fully exercise our potential. We slow our speed of progress because we’re trying not to hit the guard rails.

To never make a single career decision you regret from this point onward mostly requires some simple yet significant shifts in your perspective. All that’s required is a willingness to look inward and make a few adjustments.

Are you ready to get started?

1. Work with a Career Counselor and Determine Your Career Self-Efficacy

Career self-efficacy is your level of belief in your capability to perform behaviors that will satisfy your definition of career development. That level of belief to make good choices and perform to standards and expectations required in the next step you choose has a massive impact on whether or not you perform well.

Whether or not you perform well, in turn, affects whether or not you regret your decision in the first place.

Examining your career self-efficacy with a career counselor or psychologist won’t just help you recognize what level of belief you have in yourself to make smart career decisions. You will also learn why you make decisions the way you do.

Verbal persuasion, obtaining advice from people you respect, environmental factors and the level of emotional and personal satisfaction you predict you’ll receive are all factors which influence which signpost your follow.

The Career Decision-Making Self-efficacy Scale has been one of the most commonly used, evidence-based psychometric assessments to help individuals navigate which way to go when they hit a crossroads. This tool combined with the Skills Confidence Inventory have been shown to be strong positive influences in helping individuals make decisions which shape a career pathway of no regrets.

Combining insight through these tools with perspectives from a trained professional in this space, you’re guaranteed to consolidate greater trust in yourself to make decisions which don’t just serve your present goals but your future ones.

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2. Take Ownership and Set Milestones for Your Career

Do you wait to catch the next lucrative looking career wave to come to shore? If so, you’re not in charge of determining where you’ll end up. You’re at the mercy of someone else’s decision-making. It’s time you step into the pilot’s seat.

When Dr. Glenn Richards, veterinarian and founder of Greencross Vets was returning to Australia in London in 1993 at the tender age of 26, he had a firm goal to stop being an employee and own a single location practice.

En route home via train across Siberia to China, Dr. Richard’s vodka-fuelled discussions with Ukrainian construction miners with grand dreams to leave mining, gave his mindset a turbo boost. With ideas to use their mining income to start businesses for their own families and leave mining altogether, they prodded Richards to think bigger. One year later, Greencross Vets was born.

Fast-forward 13 years, Greencross Vets became the first enterprise of its kind to be listed publicly on the Australian Stock Exchange. Today, it spans 130 clinics across Australasia with more pet care partners under the Greencross Limited entity.

Setting gradual milestones starting with one clinic, then 10, then 50 and beyond, Dr. Richard’s success was no accident. He created the legacy from nothing.

Regardless of whether you’re an employee or business owner, don’t wait for instructions to be dictated to you. Whether you succeed or not is up to you. The leap in confidence through a sense of ownership for your own journey will be incredibly satisfying. That in itself will be hard to regret.

3. Learn to See Your Mistakes as Progress No Matter What

Carol Dweck’s highly reputed research and guidance on developing and exercising a growth mindset[1] should be advice you constantly refer to in your ten commandments of career decision-making. By practicing and learning to look for the lessons in every bad career decision, you’ll find it difficult to regret any future career move you make.

Embracing awareness of how bad decisions make you nosedive mentally, emotionally and physically can be your biggest arsenal to making far better choices. The lessons can be a swift and hard kick that derail many areas of your life, not just your career. However, after intelligently spending time processing the collateral damage, you do learn them.

Learning from a business psychologist or therapist how to recognize and proactively process pangs of anger, frustration, disappointment and kicks to confidence from a decision setback will have you back on the playing field in no time.

As you come out of the storm, look back and ask yourself:

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  • What have I learned about myself from this?
  • What did I miss?
  • What strength have I now gained?
  • How can I do things differently next time a similar challenge shows up?

You’ll spend less time delaying your career progression by not wasting as much time and energy in avoidance-mode and realizing you have the resources within you to rebound from the setbacks.

Note that none of these questions include the words ‘should’, ‘could’ or ‘would’!

4. Grow Yourself a Team of Mentors You Admire and Gain Qualified Insight

You are likely to come across those whose recommendations are well-intended but are nearsighted. Those who’ve never run a business (or a successful one at that) are always quick to tell you what to do.

It’s essential you seek and plug into mentors, mastermind groups and others who have the career runs on the board you’re chasing, to get accurate advice and feedback.

Ask questions. Offer to volunteer on projects. Invite their assessment on your competence and performance. You’ll quickly learn your limits, make even more informed career decisions at every step and build incredible relationships that reap opportunities and rewards in ways you can’t yet see.

Expect some decisions you make might leave your friends and family thinking you’re crazy. In your heart and mind, you’ll know it’s the right step because your brain’s trust network can provide true intelligence concerning the path that lies ahead of you.

5. Allow Wriggle Room in Every Role You Take

As either a business owner or employee, factor in space for unexpected growth opportunities and room for error.

Even though the recruitment and interview process with your would-be new manager makes you feel like you’re Cinderella who’s finally met their Prince Charming, be open to the possibility of unexpected hidden surprises. Your next role could encompass activities and responsibilities you’d rather only touch with a ten-foot pole!

Learning you now have a small team to lead, even though you imagined only becoming an expert technician in your industry, might be enough to send chills down your spine. Such a challenge, however, is likely to be your biggest growth opportunity.

You will make a lot of mistakes but you’re also likely to surprise yourself in uncovering hidden skills and talents as a leader! Expect hidden surprises – good and bad- and you can’t really take a step wrong.

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6. Keep Revising Your Career Map

Successful businesses thrive on innovation and transformation. As good as this sounds, it can have a serious impact on your career decision-making. Recent research indicates that 60% of young people are being trained for jobs that are going to be obsolete in the next 10 to 15 years thanks to the rise of technological automation and globalization.[2]

You’re never immune to events which could force you to change career trajectory altogether. Also, consider that you also may only ever reach a certain level in your chosen career and never hit your intended pinnacle. You can, however, learn to turn career lemons into lemonade!

Having won the world cup, Jeremy Bloom was pegged to win the men’s moguls freestyle skiing as the youngest contender ever at a very fresh 19 years of age. He finished a disappointing ninth at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games in 2002.

After winning six consecutive world cups, Bloom was again pegged to win gold at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy in 2006. He devastatingly finished sixth. Bloom penned in his biography Fueled by Failure that after just forty-eight hours of embracing and processing the emotional and mental torture, he was backfiring at 100mph and on a plane back to the U.S. to play in the NRL and be eventually drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles.

In 2008, Bloom founded the charity Wish of a Lifetime and two years later, Integrate, a software marketing company which earned the title of ‘Best New Company’ at the American Business Awards. Forbes credited Bloom as being one of the top most influential people in technology under 30 years of age.

Don’t just think linearly when deciding each step of your career. It can be limiting to your detriment. Dare to dream and let your imagination run wild.

Pop icon singer and songwriter Madonna writes children’s books whilst Lady Gaga is driving a program that provides mental health first aid training in schools! Constantly think widely of ways you can be vocationally daring to capitalize on your wide range of skills and experience.

7. Consider Having a Side-Business as a Buffer

Having a side-business won’t only sustain your income should a decision to go completely sour. It could be the saving grace to your mental health, without which, your world will stop.

Developing a side-hustle will help you maintain the momentum of a working mindset. You’re contributing to purposeful activity and staying connected with the working economy.

Consider ways you can individually expand the scope of services (and products) you can provide within your industry. Choose or create a product or service relevant to your work and industry that you can continue either alongside – or without you necessarily operating in – your full-time day job.

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Psychologist in training, Benjamin Hardy decided he wanted to become a writer back in 2010 as well as become an organizational psychologist. From writing article on Medium, he developed his pen skills to become the most popular writer on the platform within eighteen months which led to the recent publication of his first book for which he was consigned $300K to write. Prior to this, he developed his first online course which yielded just under $100K in the first seventy-two hours of its launch. Hardy still has yet to complete his Ph.D.

We may not all be Benjamin Hardy but, his example can provide inspiration for you to think a little out of the box.

If you are/were a successful digital marketer, you might consider looking at learning how to launch an e-commerce, drop-shipping business that doesn’t require you to store or handle inventory. The business could yield you revenue in addition to your digital marketing services. It could also expand and house you continuing to hone your marketing expertise as you apply your existing skill set to your side-gig.

If you found yourself suddenly retrenched or experienced a drop in client numbers running your main digital marketing services business, your side-gig can still dance to the tune you wish to play.

When you’ve reached certain stages in your career, the altruistic urge starts to kick in. The desire to give back, beckons. Teaching others from the practical experience you’ve accumulated, thus, far provides golden fodder to others hungry to follow the trail you’ve already blazed.

Whether it be creating an online course, guest lecturing or tutoring at a college or training organization, it can actually be a powerful step to keep you improving your expertise and continue gaining greater clarity about the next career decisions you’ll make.

There’s an incredible benefit to creating and developing a side-gig that greatly reduces the possibility of experiencing regret from your choices.

The Bottom Line

There will be decisions you make in your career that will yield you complete elation. Others you make will have you questioning if you made them in a sound state of mind. Above all, listen to your gut instinct.

Make choices based on your values, ethics and principles you hold at the time of making your decisions.

Always remember that you used whatever resources, knowledge and insight you had available to you at the time to make the right choice. Remember this and you will never regret a decision from this day forward.

More Resources to Help You Lead a Fulfilling Career

Featured photo credit: Kyle Sterk via unsplash.com

Reference

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Malachi Thompson

Executive Leadership and Performance Consultant

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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