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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

More by this author

Malachi Thompson

Leadership & Performance Edge Strategist

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

The world of productivity has several hacks or tricks to help you manage your time: to-do lists, the Pomodoro Technique, Parkinson’s Law… All of these strategies are great strategies in their own way, but one strategy stands above all the others: the 80 20 rule.

This particular strategy has been used the most and is regarded as the most helpful in developing time management and other concepts in life.

But what’s so special about this rule? How does it give you success and how do you use it? Let’s explore the specifics.

What Is the 80 20 Rule?

Many people regard this rule as the 80 20 rule, but it has a proper name: the Pareto Principle[1]. The principle was named after its founder,  the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, in 1895. Pareto noticed that people in society were divided into two categories:

  • The “vital few,” which consisted of the top 20 percent with respect to money and influence.
  • The “trivial many,” otherwise known as the bottom 80 percent.

As he researched this further, he came to discover that this divide didn’t apply only to money and influence, but other areas, too. Virtually all economic activity was subject to his previous observation.

He observed that 80% of Italy’s wealth at the time was controlled by only 20% of the population.

Since the development of this rule, humankind has used this particular ratio in all kinds of situations. Even if the ratio isn’t always exact, we see this rule applied in many industries and in life. Examples are:

  • 20% of sales reps will generate 80% of your total sales.
  • 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits.
  • 80% of the revenue will stem from 20% of the workers.

Either way, I’m sure you can piece together why people call this rule the 80 20 rule over Pareto’s Principle[2].

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Make Your Life and Your Business More Efficient with the 80-20 Rule - Salesforce Canada Blog

    In terms of how this particular rule will be able to work for you, it’s a matter of applying this rule to how you spend your time. For us to see success, the goal is simple.

    We need to set it up in such a way that 20% of our input is responsible for 80% of our results.

    Another way to think about it is we use 20% of our time on activities that give us 80% of our results in a given area of life.

    How Does the 80 20 Rule Work?

    To best explain this, let’s visualize a bit.

    In an ideal world:

    • Every employee would contribute the same amount of effort to work.
    • Every feature that’s released for an app or product would be equally loved by users.
    • Each business idea you come up with would be a hit.

    In that scenario, planning would be a breeze. There wouldn’t be any need to analyze anything so long as you put in the effort.

    But that’s not reality.

    Yes, the effort is certainly an element, but what the 80 20 principle states is that everything is unequal. Invest in 10 start-up companies, and you’ll find only a few will pass year two and make it big. You’re in a team of five, and there’ll be one person doing more work than others.

    We wish our lives were always one-for-one in terms of input and output, but that’s simply not true. Understanding this is key to understanding how the 80 20 rule really works.

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    So how does it really work?

    It’s a matter of focusing on what’s giving you the most in your life for little of your time.

    Going back to the few examples I’ve presented above, consider this:

    • If two start-ups you invested in are making it big, focus on having a more direct hand, and see if you can help them prosper more.
    • If 20% of sales reps are giving you 80% of your sales, focus on rewarding those and keeping their spirits high and motivated.

    These scenarios can go on and on, but the idea is to place your efforts on the 20% that is actually making the difference in your life. Another term that’s good to know is the diminishing marginal utility[3].

    Pareto didn’t come up with this one, but the law goes as follows: each extra hour of effort or worker will add less “oomph” to your finished results.

    Eventually, you’ll hit a point where you will spend a lot of time on small and unimportant details, similar to perfectionism.

    So before hitting that point, you want to have a laser focus on the most important details, from family and relationships to your work or business. Prioritize the activities that are going to move you forward the most, and be wary of adding extra time, effort, or more hands into those particular tasks moving forward.

    How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule

    So now that you have an understanding of the 80 20 rule and how it works, what is the best way to take advantage of it?

    Depending on where you are applying this rule, this can be used in all kinds of fashions.

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    For example, you can apply this rule to goal setting, as demonstrated by Brian Tracy in this video:

    Or you can apply it in terms of general productivity as explained in this article: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

    The core of this rule is that it forces us to ask ourselves the questions we wouldn’t consider otherwise. It helps us to place our focus in the right places with regards to all things in life.

    In short, the 80 20 rule places us in charge of our lives and helps us set out on our goals and dreams. With this in mind, here are some things you can consider concerning this rule.

    1. Focus on Your Big Tasks First

    While this is the essence of the 80 20 rule, it’s still worth mentioning. Why? Because so many of us feel intimidated by the biggest task. We instinctively avoid it and opt for smaller tasks first.

    We think that if we complete enough small tasks that we will feel motivated to finish that really big one later. But that’s really false hope at work.

    Once we finish off a lot of small tasks, we either feel drained, or we tell ourselves we’ll do this the next day.

    Instead of doing all that, bite the bullet and tackle the largest task first.

    If you need help with prioritization, check out this article.

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    I argue this by challenging you to ask yourself this one question:

    “Is the task I’m about to do the top 20 percent of my activities or the bottom 80 percent?”

    I’m sure you’ve seen time and again you or other workers spending a lot of time on one task for most of the day. In those kinds of grinds, you’re barely getting ahead and have next to nothing to show for it. That’s because they’re putting all their attention on work that’s in the 80 percent.

    It’s normally the big tasks that are part of the 20 percent.

    Another way to think about this is that everything we do starts a habit. If every day we spend our energy on low-value tasks, we will always prioritize those.

    2. Stretch This Into Personal Life

    While I’ve been talking about business and setting goals, remember you can use this in other areas of your life, too.

    Take your personal life and ask yourself some of these questions:

    • How much TV do you watch on a regular basis? What sort of shows are you legitimately into? These questions can help you in recognizing what shows you are watching purely for consumption. By applying the 80 20 rule, you can cut back on Netflix, TV, or YouTube video consumption and prioritize other areas of your life.
    • What does your wardrobe look like in terms of colors? Are there specific colors that you like? Knowing what you wear most times will help you in sorting out your wardrobe significantly. It also saves you time to come up with what to wear every morning.
    • How many newsletters do you actually read? This question can help you in figuring out which newsletters to unsubscribe to and can clear up a lot of space in your inbox. It can also relieve pressure from having to check your emails constantly.
    • How much time do you spend on your phone every day? How much of that time is actually doing something meaningful? These questions can help you in clearing out various apps that aren’t helping you with your goals. In fact, this can curb the need to check your phone constantly.

    Final Thoughts

    The 80 20 rule is the productivity hack that many of us need, and for good reason. As you can tell, it’ll help you to focus and prioritize the more important aspects of your life.

    Not only that, but it’ll maximize those outputs at the same time and ensure you’re not spending too much time working on them. All you need to do is start asking questions and taking action.

    More Techniques to Help You Succeed in Life

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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