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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

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Is Creative Thinking and Why Is It Important?

What Is Creative Thinking and Why Is It Important?

Have you ever wondered why some can come up with amazing ideas while others can’t? The ability to connect the dots and see the larger picture all rest in a certain skill – creative thinking.

Creative thinking is our ability to look at ideas presented or a scenario, and find new alternatives that solve the problem. Best of all this skill isn’t bound to the creative people like designers, musicians, or other artists. A lot of people can benefit from thinking this way from time to time. They can also receive a number of benefits on top of a wide variety of ideas that can spark change.

What Is Creative Thinking?

Defined by the Business Dictionary, creative thinking is:[1]

A way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unorthodox solutions (which may look unsettling at first). Creative thinking can be stimulated both by an unstructured process such as brainstorming, and by a structured process such as lateral thinking.

Creativity is, therefore, our ability to form something new out of what’s presented. It’s our ability to think differently and provide new angles and perspectives to a solution.

This can translate to a new solution that wasn’t there or even the realization that a problem doesn’t need a solution at the moment or at all.

The Importance of Creative Thinking

True that many people may not care so much about new solutions or angles but that’s the point. Our brains have a natural tendency to fall into certain ‘shortcuts’.

Have you ever been in a situation where you hear or learn one piece of information and you use it all the time?

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I bet you have, since we don’t need to relearn how to use a knife or a fork.

That way of thinking does have its perks in those situations but has some drawbacks in other situations. This is especially true with problem-solving.

Creative thinking and creative thinkers are needed in those situations because it pushes out of that linear way of thinking. It encourages us to look at other perspectives and even open up to the idea of new solutions.

Creative thinking is also important for other reasons:

Thinking creatively provides immense freedom.

When we create, we have the opportunity to engage with the world without judging ourselves. It’s similar to what we felt when we were a child. Back then we didn’t care what people thought of us.

Creative thinking provides self-awareness.

We start to think with authenticity as we use our own thoughts, feelings and beliefs. This creates biases in our ideas, but we can learn to set those aside and deeply learn about ourselves.

We become more confident in our ideas.

Maybe right now, you don’t present ideas or your ideas get shut down. By tapping into creative thinking, we can build our confidence in our ideas and start to contribute to the group and our work at large.

What Are the Creative Thinking Skills?

Creative thinking isn’t barred to those who learn in creative fashions. Anyone can pick up creative thinking skills and use them to enrich their lives and those around them.

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Because anyone can learn this, there is no one “right” method or a set of skills you absolutely need. Some of us may need to strengthen one area while others may need to do more. Regardless, here are some skills that can complement creative thinking.

1. Perception & Empathy

Feeling surprised that this is one of the creative thinking skills? Being perceptive and empathetic works hand in hand with creative thinking. Being able to read the mood of a meeting or a discussion you’re having with people can help immensely.

This is key because there are times and places to share ideas. Specifically, you may find the best opportunities to share ideas when:

  • You’re facing a major problem or issue and can’t seem to find a way to proceed and solve it.
  • During times of change, when the future is more obscure than usual and you’re thinking of possibilities.
  • When there is a clear divide between what people think needs to happen. It’s especially needed when no compromises can happen without considerable effort.
  • When something new is needed and hasn’t been tried before.

Empathy also helps with how an idea is presented. Maybe in your workgroup, people aren’t always receptive to your ideas. However, there is that one person who always has a plan and people support.

Empathy is letting that person take “ownership” of that idea and be the voice behind the idea. In these sorts of scenarios, you build up more than empathy. It also builds the belief that your idea will prevail in the hands of someone else.

2. Analytical

Analytical skills help us in understanding many other situations outside of the social environment. Being able to read text or data and have a deeper understanding of what they mean will serve you in a variety of ways.

I find that with creative thinking, the first step is being able to intake information and digest it in various ways. Being able to analyze information is often the first step in the creative thinking process.

3. Open-Mindedness

Once you’ve taken in the information, it’s important that you have an open mind. This means you need to set aside your biases or assumptions and encourage yourself to look at a problem in a new way.

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Biases and assumptions are some of the mental barriers you’ll face. But looking at the other barriers, they often stem from that sort of thinking. A strict and “this is how it should be” way of thinking. Other examples of limitations are that you’re thinking of a problem too logically or that creative thinking is somehow breaking the rules.

These are limiting because we know that to have an open mind is to succeed. Every successful entrepreneur in the world today had to break rules at some point in their lives. Consider Richard Branson or Elon Musk whose work revolutionized or created an entirely new industry. All because they didn’t back down to how things were. You can do the same thing within your own group in some fashion.

4. Organized

The last thing people associate creative thinkers is that they’re organized. While we think of great minds have messy rooms or desks, that’s not the case at all.

Being organized plays a crucial role in creative thinking in that it allows you to better organize our ideas. Not only that, but it also helps to present it as well. When we present ideas, it’s similar to a speech. There ought to be a structure, a vision, and have it easy to follow and understand.

Furthermore, if your idea is given the green light, you’ll need to form an action plan, set goals, and have specific deadlines. Being organized will keep you on your toes and prepared for almost anything.

5. Communication

Communication plays a vital role in all this as well. You can’t sell a group or an individual on an idea if you can’t communicate effectively. This applies to both written and verbal communication skills.

This goes back to empathy a bit in that you need to understand the situation you’re in. This also means you need to be a good listener and being able to ask the right questions.

6. Dissect Ideas

The last skill I’ll offer is a challenging one but can pay off in so many ways. Sometimes creative thinking means taking two ideas and merging them.

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This helps because in most situations ideas in their base form might not be able to satisfy the original goal or problem. That or maybe the idea is outright terrible but, there are some good pieces of information in it.

The ability to look at ideas and be able to break them down and dissect them and merge with other ideas is a great skill to have. This could easily help solve disputes and help to find a middle ground.

Some Examples of Creative Thinking

The list of creative thinking examples is endless. In most situations, these examples will boost your creative thinking as well so I encourage you to try them out yourself:

  • Designing anything from a logo, to a simple webpage layout, to a poster and more
  • Creating a lesson plan for a group training course
  • Writing in a journal, a blog, or any social platforms
  • Creating a test or quiz from scratch just for fun
  • Brainstorming project ideas at work, or decor/renovation ideas at home
  • Finding procedures to improve the quality of a product or service
  • Suggesting solutions to improve a product or service

Bottom Line

The number of examples of creative thinking is endless but they are all challenging. This is a good thing as the world continues to change and grow. This pushes us to learn new skills, to think differently, and to start asking the more important questions. “Why?” and “Why not?”

These are skills and abilities that can change the world and that anyone can adopt. So long as you have the patience to learn and develop yourself, you too can be a creative thinker!

More Tips to Boost Your Creativity

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

[1] Business Dictionary: Creative Thinking

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