I coached a client last week who was stuck. She'd recently been notified that her job was being dissolved and she was struggling to figure out her next step.
In the course of talking with her, she made two common statements that, if she's not careful, will completely undermine her career decision-making process:
1. "My mentor thinks I should go into X job and I just wonder if I should do that because that's the path I've been on?"
2. "I just don't think I want to live in that state because my family is all there and I don't know that I can handle the relational dynamics."
What's the danger?
1. This first statement uses a simple, yet ugly little word -- "should." When we make decisions based on "shoulds," we are making decisions based on extrinsic factors -- peer pressure, parental expectations, money, or some other element. The danger of extrinsic motivators is that they will always disappoint in the long term. If you get a job because your mentor thinks you should, they will go on with their life and you'll wake up stuck in a job you hate. "Should" begs the question "according to whom?" In other words, what or who is the standard you are trying to live up to, not disappoint, or satisfy?
2. This second statement is an example of foreclosing an entire geographic location, industry, or career path because of an isolated experience. "I once had a bad experience with a friend in Seattle so I really don't want to live in Washington." Or, "I get that I'm a good listener but I don't want to be a counselor because I don't want to listen to people's problems all day." As if there is only one kind of counselor, and it's the kind that listens to problems all day. Not all counselors deal with drama, not all lawyers do try cases, not all bankers are on Wall Street, and not all teachers work with kindergartners. When you foreclose an entire field because of a bad experience, you miss out on potentially congruent options that would otherwise provide immense satisfaction.
So do these factors not matter at all?
As I told this client, let those be factors, but not drivers in the decision-making process.
Consider them, but don't put them in position 1, 2, or 3.
What should be in the first positions when making a career decision? In my opinion:
1. Talents. Will I get to do what I do best every day and get paid to do it? If so, you could take a job in Antarctica and learn to love it, because you are getting paid money to do what you do best!
2. Values. Does the organization share my core beliefs? Does the manager as well? If so, you will avoid values conflict, which is at the root of most discontent in career.
3. Environment. Do I like the culture? The location? And is it in a place I want to live? If yes, then don't hesitate to take the job.
Then and only then should you look at salary, geography, proximity to your ex, or any other factor. Again, these things matter, but not in the first position (or second or third).
Hi! I'm Dustin.
I post here once a week on Tuesdays, every week, at 4:59am. You can also sign up below to have these posts magically air-dropped straight to your inbox.