by Christy Williams | Featured Contributor
Career decisions are some of the toughest decisions we will have to make in our lives, aren’t they?
I recently had a friend ask me how to make a tough decision she was faced with in her career. She commented on how I’ve changed jobs and careers, but she’s never heard me wonder or have regret – and she wanted to know my secret.
When I was younger, one of the best managers I’ve ever worked for introduced me to the weighted pros and cons list. (Spoiler alert…this is not my secret formula.)
She showed me how to not only write out my list of pros and cons, but then actually rate the items on each of those lists from 1 to 10, according to the level of importance that factor was to you in your decision-making. Salary, flexibility, benefits, commute time, etc.
You rate all of the factors for the pros and the cons and then subtract the cons total from the pros total – giving you a “score” for that decision. Then you do the same for the pros and cons of the other decision. When you’re finished, you have two scores and the higher scoring decision “wins.”
Easy as pie, right?
Well, I’m here to tell you to throw that list of pros and cons out.
I know, I know…your pros and cons list might sound like the most objective, analytical way to make decisions, especially if you like number crunching and black and white answers.
But here’s the thing.
Everything can look perfect on paper, and still not work out the way the numbers and your lists of pros and cons told you they would.
You can quit your old job to go after your dream of owning your own business, and you can do everything right and “by the book,” but when you get there, it could still end up not feeling like it was the right decision. Because lists of pros and cons, and numbers showing you which decision is the winner aren’t always right.
But you know what is always right?
And the way to make decisions in your career, your business, your love life – or anything else for that matter – is by checking in with your gut.
Yes, actually – it is. But it’s not at all easy.
Because checking in with your gut and listening to your intuition means setting aside time to get quiet, and actually listen to what your intuition is trying to tell you.
And setting aside time to do this can be a challenge in and of itself.
But this is my 5-minute formula for making business, career, or any other kind of decision in our lives:
- Take five minutes – that’s really all you need – and get in a quiet place where you can close your eyes and focus for a few moments.
- When you are settled and comfortable, imagine one of the choices you could make in this situation. Whether it’s staying in a job versus starting your own business, or deciding between two jobs, or whether it’s deciding between starting this kind of business or that kind of business, imagine yourself making one of the choices.
- As you imagine yourself making that first choice, feel it in your body. How does it feel if it’s Sunday night and you are about to start a new week? How does it feel as you’re driving there every day? How does it feel to be doing this kind of work all day every day? Feel all of these feelings in your body and notice not only where you are feeling it – your stomach, your heart, your neck and shoulders – but also notice how it feels. Does it feel tight and constricted? Does it feel light and freeing and like a relief? Notice it all and then let it go.
- Now, imagine yourself making the other decision. Go through the whole scenario again. Do you feel energized and eager to get started, or does the thought of it just drain you?
- Now compare how the two decisions felt. Which one felt better in your body? Which one made you more excited? Which one felt…more right?
It’s that simple. Your gut knows the answer. And your body will tell you. And it will keep on telling you until you listen.
Until you listen to that knot in your stomach, your tense shoulders, the Sunday night dread – or the calm, peaceful feeling we get when we hear the truth our intuition is trying to whisper to us.
Listen to the whisper.
“You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life…Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.” ~ Steve Jobs