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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

More by this author

Malachi Thompson

Executive Leadership and Performance Consultant

How Successful People Think: 10 Mindsets to Cultivate 15 Inspiring Ideas to Boost Your Motivation for Success How to Make Career Decisions That You Will Not Regret for Life 8 Critical Skills for Workplace Success and Career Advancement 17 Versatile Work Skills That Will Gain You More Career Opportunities

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have

14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have

Being a leader of a company or organization is certainly a difficult and often frustrating position – but it can also be tremendously rewarding.

Whether you’re just starting out as a leader, or have been leading for a while, you’ll be sure to benefit from knowing the essential traits that all great leaders possess.

Effective and successful leaders transcend the title of ‘manager’ or ‘boss’. They’ve found a way to achieve the perfect combination of charisma, enthusiasm and self-assurance (with a healthy dose of luck and timing probably added to the mix).

It may seem like some people are gifted with leadership skills, but the truth is most leadership traits can be learned, adopted, and strengthened with time and practice.

As we delve into the list of effective leadership traits, you will learn the behaviors and attitudes of a good leader.

1. Vision and Mission

Having a clear picture of what needs to be achieved is a crucial quality of good leadership.

This vision is often communicated in a mission statement, such as this one from Starbucks:

    How to develop vision? Spend time pinpointing what you need to achieve, and then plan the steps to get there. Here’s a complete guide on creating your own vision.

    2. Self-Motivated

    It’s no coincidence that successful leaders have an abundance of self-motivation.

    Without a decent level of self-motivation, you’ll struggle to become a strong and respected leader. However, if you don’t have a lot of self-motivation right now, don’t despair.

    One of the secrets is to have definite goals to keep you motivated at all times. Some people also choose to reward themselves every time they achieve a goal, and this is certainly a good way to keep yourself enthused and motivated. Learn how to set an ambitious yet achievable goal here.

    3. Optimism and Positivity

    Positive energy is contagious. Great leaders are overflowing with this type of energy.

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    Not only does a positive mindset make leaders easy to work with, but it also gives them a constant source of inspiration and ideas.

    Tap into this energy by aligning yourself with positive people and positive goals. Find out more about the habits of positive people here.

    4. Emotional Stability

    In leadership positions, frustration and stress are daily occurrences. This is why leaders need to have strong and stable emotions. They can’t allow themselves to be easily knocked off track.

    If you’re prone to losing your emotional stability when stressed or frustrated, try some of these techniques: breath deeply and slowly for 30 seconds, go for a walk, drink some water (instead of tea or coffee), turn your focus onto something you can resolve. Here’re some effective ways to control your emotions.

    5. Self-Confidence

    Watch a presentation by any CEO and you’ll see that even if they’re not natural presenters – they make up for this by having powerful self-confidence.

    It’s not just CEOs who have self-confidence, any successful leader will have this trait in abundance. One reason for this, is that only a confident person can persuade others and gain their respect.

    Worried that you have low self-confidence? Try faking it. Psychologists often recommend that if you ‘act’ at being confident, you’ll start to look, sound and feel like you ARE confident. And in time… you will be.

    If you look for more ways to boost your self-confidence, this confidence coach has got you some nice advice:

    How to Be Confident: 62 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

    6. Decisiveness

    Leaders are frequently called upon to make decisions (some leaders may have to make dozens of decisions every day). In fact, you could say that making decisions is one of the key things a leader must do.

    Spend some time observing highly-successful leaders and you’ll see that they are quick to make decisions. They also enjoy making decisions, rather than stressing out like many non-leaders do when they’re asked to decide on something.

    Put yourself in the leadership bracket by developing your decision-making skills. Start with small decisions – and then work your way up to bigger and more difficult decisions. Once other people notice your decision-making prowess, they’ll automatically see you as leadership material.

    I know it’s really quite difficult to make the right decisions sometimes, but don’t worry, here’s a guide for you:

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    How To Make Good Decisions All The Time

    7. Passion and Enthusiasm

    Expressive. Active. Energetic. These are words best describe a passionate leader.

    Great leaders are lively, driven and are possessed with zeal and purpose. It’s this passion that helps them achieve big results. If you want to emulate their success, then you need to develop passion and enthusiasm for the work at hand, and the end goals.

    Take a look at this Passion Pyramid to find out how importance a leader’s passion is to the team:

      One way to do this is to find what motivates you, and keep your focus firmly on that. For example, i f you’re motivated by helping others, then make sure your role and company are both suited to realizing this. If you’re motivated by money, then put your focus on achieving bonuses and pay rises.

      Take a look at Leo Babauta’s guide on how to find your passion.

      8. Accountability and Responsibility

      Exceptional leaders know that at all times they’ll need to take responsibility for tasks and their results. This includes things likes individual and team performance, as well as being accountable for when things go wrong.

      When negative things occur (and you can guarantee they will from time-to-time), a great leader will immediately step in and take responsibility. Initially, they’ll try to resolve the problem in as quick and smooth a way as possible. But if this is not feasible, they’ll be sure to say that the buck stops with them – and they take full responsibility for what has happened.

      To develop your leadership skills, you must never shy away from responsibility or accountability. If you prefer to sweep mistakes under the carpet, then you’re demonstrating non-leadership traits. Try owning up to issues and finding solutions to them. By doing this, you’ll immediately gain people’s respect.

      Find out some tips on how to be a more responsible person here.

      9. Focus

      Distractions are everywhere. And it takes major focus to stay committed to tasks and goals. The best leaders understand this, and therefore, they’re always looking at ways to boost their team’s focus.

      One way leaders do this, is to keep their team intensely focused on the bigger picture. This might entail allocating specific time for tasks and eliminating any non-essential work.

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      If you’re easily knocked off track, you’ll need to spend some time boosting your focus. Try planning your day, week, month and year to help ensure that you don’t fall behind with achieving your goals. Check out the 7 strategies of staying super focus recommended by a productivity coach.

      10. Ever-Learning

      Leaders know that to be successful they need to continually update their skills and knowledge. They deliberately learn all they can about their profession and industry, so they’ll able to make confident and assured decisions.

      Why is ever learning so important? I’ll leave it to you to find out the reason here:

      If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

      Imagine a CEO of a solar power company. His company may have amazing solar panels, but when it comes to discussing business with potential buyers, if the CEO or his sales team show a lack of understanding about the solar industry and future trends, etc., they’ll be unlikely to win any business.

      It’s exactly the same for you. If you’re a team leader at an electronics store, you should make sure you fully understand all the products that you offer. But go beyond just that, and read about upcoming products and trends that might change what customers are interesting in buying in the future.

      11. Empathy

      The best leaders understand the feeling of their team members, customers and associates. They know when to praise, and when to discuss problems (usually in private).

      Without empathy, leaders will be seen as cold, harsh and lacking understanding. They’re also likely to be regarded as untrustworthy.

      One way to ‘put yourself in someone else’s shoes’ is to have regular informal discussions with your colleagues. When you do this, you’ll quickly learn their fears and desires. And when you understand why they have these – you’ll be in a position to express empathy. You can also learn to be more sensitive to others’ needs by taking up these communication skills.

      12. Persuasive and Influential

      Communications are at the heart of all transactions. Whether it’s pitching for a sale or resolving a customer complaint, how you communicate will determine the outcome.

      Charismatic leaders such as Richard Branson (Virgin) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are confident and persuasive communicators. They know how to win over audiences and leave a lasting impressing in people’s minds.

      There’re some common barriers that you’ll have to overcome in order to communicate effectively:

      How to learn effective communication? You could join the world-renowned U.S. nonprofit Toastmasters International. They’ve been training people in the art of public speaking since 1924, and members have included Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, and Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy.

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      If you don’t have time to join a club, then practice your communications skills at home. You can do this in front of a mirror, or even better, video yourself presenting, and then ask some friends and family members for feedback. You’ll be amazed at what they pick up on.

      13. Team Building

      If you put a bunch of random people together, you may have a loose definition of a team. In reality, a real team has purpose, drive – and a leader lighting the way.

      If you’ve worked in different teams and with different managers, you’ll no doubt have come to this conclusion:

      Managers who treat their team members like children are unpopular with the team. Conversely, managers who treat their team members like adults, are respected and well-liked by the team.

      The days of disciplinarian managers are passed. Nowadays, successful team leaders know how to inspire and motivate their team, while keeping a harmonious atmosphere between all team members.

      14. Fostering Creativity

      Solutions to problems are rarely black and white. Often it takes a leader who can ‘think outside the box’ to come up with answers. In other words, a leader must be creative, and also help to foster creativity and innovation throughout their team.

      Creativity is not only associated with pursuits such as arts, literature and music, running a team can be just as creative. There will be times every day when you need to come up with ideas and give guidelines for your team to come up with theirs to solve problems.

      The Bottom Line

      Leadership is a journey of continuous learning. It is an amazing experience that will take you on roads you’ve never traveled before.

      Begin now to build your skills and experience, pick out the traits that you currently lack – and then work on developing those.

      It will take tons of practice and time before becoming an effective leader but eventually you will join the ranks of great leaders.

      More About Leadership

      Featured photo credit: unsplash via unsplash.com

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