Learning how to make good decisions requires information about what kind of decision maker you are, knowledge about yourself and being familiar with all of your options. Making decisions impacts the effectiveness of our lives and influences our long-term results.
It is often best to use a systematic planned approach when making important decisions. Although it is essential to understand there is no one best model that should be applied across the board for everyone; choosing a system that allows you to gather information, think over and apply an efficient method will help create more confidence in making the “right” choices.
Some people will make decisions based on an empathetic approach such as using values, feelings and taking into consideration the impact their decisions will have on others. Other individuals will use more of an analytical or logical style such as using data, identifying the pros and cons, and viewing their situation more objectively. Keep in mind that whatever style you use in making decisions that you pick what works best for you and understand how you use it to make the right decisions.
According to the CIP model (Reardon, Lenz, Sampson & Peterson, 2005) and using the CASVE approach, the first step in making career decisions is to identify the gap. Identifying where you are and where you want to be is crucial and helps clarify the gap. When your discomfort becomes greater than the fear of change than you know you have to make a decision. It is important to identify this need and take into consideration both external demands and internal clues. For example, you may identify your gap by clarifying your event, “I need to choose whether I will take this new position or stay in my current job by next week.” Your internal clues may be emotional, “I am scared about making the wrong choice.” What is important is that you recognize these clues and become familiar with how you make decisions.
Understanding yourself and your options will help clarify what it is you want. Evaluating your values, interests and skills will help shed some light in your self-analysis. Reflecting on your personal experiences, using structured exercises, assessment instruments, and other career guidance resources you may have access to, may be helpful in clarifying your values and interests.
Enhancing your occupational knowledge will help evaluate your options in your analysis. For example, gathering information on various occupations or programs of study through informational interviews, job shadowing, networking, work experience, and academic courses will give you more knowledge about the world-of-work.
Keep in mind thoughts influence your feelings and behavior and self-talk can have a positive or negative effect on your career decision making process. Remember to keep self-talk positive and ask thought provoking question throughout your journey such as “What information do I need to know about myself and my situation so that I am prepared to make a decision?”
Identifying the maximum number of potential options or alternatives in your career decision making will help you elaborate on this process. However, keep in mind that too many options can become overwhelming forcing you to not to take any action at all. Therefore, it is necessary to narrow down potential occupations, jobs or programs of study to a manageable number of options in order to help clarify your choices. Be realistic and see how your options fit in with your analysis of your values, interests and skills.
Weighing the costs and benefits of each alternative will help narrow the gap that you identified in the first step of this decision making process. For example, take into consideration yourself, family members or significant others, cultural group, your style of decision making (logical, empathic, intuitive), and resources such as financial obligations (for educational or training options).
To help prioritize your options it may be helpful to make primary and secondary choices. For example, you can list your primary choice as tentative in case it becomes unattainable due to lack of resources, failure to get in to an appropriate training or education program, or as result of changes in your values, interests or skills (overtime). Be sure to make secondary choices as well.
Formulate and execute a plan for implementing your first choice. Whether your plan involves formal education/training experience, reality-testing (full-time, part-time, and volunteer work experience) or finding or changing a job, it is important to develop a plan outlining specific measurable steps with realistic time frames. Be sure to review personal and environment factors that may affect your plan: time constraints, family obligations, stress level, financial and human resources, and of course your style of decision-making.
Making effective decisions to improve your career or education path requires your time, energy and implementation. Understanding the career decision process and finding an approach that works for you is vital. Improving your skills through various exercises and obtaining knowledge about your choices will have a long-lasting effect on your career decision making.
By: Erin Suess
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Erin Suess is a life and career coach and creator of Life Coaching Designs. She works with individuals who are seeking to enhance their personal and professional lives through gaining clarity and achieving goals. She also offers MBTI and Strong Interest Inventory testing on her site. If you are ready to live your best life then contact Erin! www.lifecoachingdesigns.comKnow someone who would make a great life coach? Share this page with them by clicking on the SHARE button below.