Inevitably, we all come to points in our careers where we have to make some big decisions. Do I take that promotion that requires me to move to another city? Do I look for another job? Do I go back to school and change directions in my career?
Whatever it is for you, those moments come and we all have to deal with them.
Here are some suggestions for making that big move.
First, feel the emotions. Too many times, we skip this step. This may sound “touchy feely” but remember that our emotions are indicators of our needs. To the extent you can get in touch with your feelings, they will be good guides for you.
Are you worried, anxious, excited, scared, jubilant, proud? If it’s a big step, contemplating the outcome probably gives rise to a number of different emotions. First, figure out what they are, and then determine where that emotion is coming from.
Each of these emotions derive from the very real values you have inside you. Once you feel the emotions, and determine where the feelings are coming from, you can determine what your real concerns are.
At this point, you will also be able to determine where your fears are coming from, and if they’re “real” fears, or simply fear of change.
Note: a lot of the time, we like to skip the first two steps (feeling emotions, and determining needs) and go straight to making a list of pros and cons when making a big decision. The problem with that approach is we don’t know the *weight* to give each of the issues that arise because we haven’t felt the corresponding emotions first.
Eventually, we have to go back and figure this out, so start here. It will save you time. Promise.
Now that you’ve felt the emotions, make a list of your needs and concerns about each of the outcomes.
For example, maybe moving to a new city means leaving behind your extended family in your current town. This makes you sad since you’ll miss them and value family closeness, and worried about their well-being, since you provide certain guidance and support for them.
On the other hand, moving to a new city makes you excited to learn new things and meet new people, and the job promotion will mean more money which will help you meet other goals.
Once you’ve identified these values and needs, you can more easily speak with others about your concerns.
Now you’re ready to talk to *at least* two wise advisors in your circle (three or four is better, but don’t go overboard). You want to choose people who will listen to you and let you articulate your concerns – as well as your values and priorities – and give their feedback.
Let them know that you want their insight and advice, but of course, you will be making the ultimate decision. You want to get feedback from 2-4 people, but don’t let getting too much feedback either 1) confuse you, or 2) be a delay tactic to keep you from making a decision.
Always remember that each of us has to make our own decisions and you have to be happy with your choice. No one can make it for you, and if you make a decision in line with your values, you’ll be fine.
Finally, spend some time alone reflecting on the options. Make the decision you feel makes sense for you, and then move forward. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – we all do! And know that if you follow your intuition you’ll be able to live with what you choose for yourself, and that’s what is truly important.
In the above example, either choosing to move to a new city or staying in the home city would be perfect – the “right” decision is based on who has to live with the outcome, and what works for them.
The key is to make sure you’re listening to your inner voice (and figuring out where those voices are coming from!), as well as taking good feedback from others.
How do you make big decisions? What has worked for you in the past?
Aurelia Flores is Senior Counsel at a Fortune 500 company and former Fulbright Fellow who graduated from Stanford Law School. Her website, PowerfulLatinas.com, offers stories of success, along with resources and programs focused on Latino empowerment.