A story I often share with folks who ask for advice is based on an exchange I had w/ a waitress several years ago. I am often indecisive when choosing an entrée at dinner and will ask for advice. Pointing to one dish in each of the pasta, chicken and beef sections, I asked for advice on a final selection. Her answer (in the form of a question); “well…do you want chicken or beef?”
Of course, I meant is any particular dish wonderful or something to avoid. But I had asked imprecisely. And the answer is one that has stuck w/ me because I think it illustrates an important life lesson. You have to decide what YOU want. Others can offer advice, but only you can know what you want. There is no shortcut. You must think for yourself. It’s also no one else’s responsibility. It’s your life and career. Be proactive in making decisions.
Often, a career counseling session ultimately boils down to me being asked what should the other person want. We agree on the options on the table, the pros and cons of each and all of the various particulars. But when it comes down to A vs. B, they balk and want an out, an easy opinion from me on “the right” choice for them.
There are two problems with this:
1) People hesistate due to what a friend of mine refers to as “the fallacy of infinite choices”. By this he means we all think that making decisions cuts off options. This is the “if I don’t make a choice, both paths are still open” assumption. This is a false assumption.
2) Also, making a choice means we need to know ourselves and our goals well enough to be confident in the choice. So many of us want to avoid the “buyers remorse” of a wrong move while also seeing all the greener grass on another lawn. This clarity of mind is rare, but can be developed.
Take-away: There are many factors to consider as you make specific choices in advancing your career. We will explore them over time on this blog, but you need to be prepared to actively think through what you want.