Stuck in ‘Analysis Paralysis’? Three ways to make confident career decisions

‘I really want to find the right career path for me but I just can’t decide what to do. I come up with lots of ideas but then keep thinking of all the reasons why not to do them; the impact on my family – what if I get so caught up in my role that I’m too busy to be with my children? What if it doesn’t work out – how will we cope financially?, and so I’m stuck’ Teresa said to me in a coaching consultation.

A common reason Mums approach me for support is this inability to make a career decision. Often, like Teresa, they find themselves going round and round in mental circles, caught up in analysis paralysis, talking it over incessantly with friends and family but getting nowhere fast.

The tyranny of ‘what if’ has got them firmly in its grip. So how can we break this cycle?

Make sure you actually have a real decision to make

Often we try to make decisions before they are actually real. For example, Teresa was second guessing how she would cope with the demands of a conveyancing career alongside her desire to still be there for school pick ups and after school activities and feeling stumped.

The trouble with this is it’s very difficult – if not impossible – to make a good decision based on hypothetical information. Teresa doesn’t know if she’ll even be offered a role, or what the hours or flexibility will be if she is, or what other offers she may have by that time or what supports may be available to help her fulfil her childcare commitments.

Making imaginary decisions is not only difficult; it’s an incredible waste of time and energy. So if you find yourself struggling to make a career decision it’s important to ask yourself: ‘Do I actually need to make this decision right now?’.

The chances are, by the time you are in a real position to make a choice you’ll have far more information available to help you in making this decision.

Embrace the perspective that there is no wrong choice

Often we struggle with making career decisions because we imagine that one choice is better than another, we have a fear of getting it wrong- trying something and failing at it, so we put pressure on ourselves like Teresa to get it ‘right’. In this perspective we see ourselves in a ’win-lose’ situation and our natural instinct is to avoid losing at all costs.

A more liberating response is to try to see that every decision you make is just for now and that whatever happens you’ll learn from it. Sometimes you can’t know that a career is right for you until you try it. If you try it out and find that it is not for you, then you can take this valuable information and adjust your path.

From this ‘win – win’ perspective whichever path you choose to take gives you valuable opportunities to experience life in a new way, to learn and grow, find out about yourself and your abilities and what you are here to contribute. There really is no way to go wrong.

Use all Intelligence available to you and trust your Instincts

 Often we struggle with making career decisions because we are overly reliant on thinking to help us make a logical choice, we intellectualise the problem but are often unaware of other potent sources of information available to guide our choices.

In particular: paying attention to our bodily reactions and ‘gut instincts’ can be very telling as to which path to take. Don’t be afraid to trust these instincts, even if they run counter to what may seem ‘logical’.

The best way to illustrate this is with an example from my coaching practice. When I first met Pippa she couldn’t decide whether to find another corporate job or try to go freelance on her own. Like Teresa, she was caught up in her head, analysing the decision and felt paralysed, confused and stuck.

She was applying her Intellectual Intelligence (IQ) to the problem but she was unaware that she had other sources of information which could help guide her decision. Through coaching Pippa started to tap into the information her feelings and body were giving her and realised she was much more excited to work for herself. And so her decision was made. And the more she tuned in to her emotional intelligence (EQ) and somatic intelligence (SQ), the more confident she was it was the right one (for now!).

The key to using your emotional and somatic intelligence to guide your career decisions is to check in with your feelings and body sensations. Imagine yourself in each career scenario. Paint a vivid picture paying attention to what you see/hear/feel/what you are doing and who you are with. Or, even better actually try out your choices. Shadow a conveyancer if you think you might like to be one.

Then, and this is the really important bit, pay close attention to how you feel both emotionally and physically. Do you feel open, light, relaxed or tense, heavy and unpleasant? Your body holds the answers if you learn to tune in and listen to it.

How about you?

What has your experience been of making difficult career decisions? What helped you make those choices? What hindered your progress? Please share your experiences in the comments box below, I’d love to hear them!

Want more help to make a confident career choice?

Take a look at my ‘There’s More in Me’ career coaching programme. You can fill in the form here and then schedule a FREE consultation to get some clarity on the situation you are facing.

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