What does it take to make a wise career decision? Research has demonstrated that individuals who make efficient, wise career decisions combine initiative strengths with intellect or analytical thinking and research.
Successful career decisions will take you through seven stages. Backtracking may occur as you gather more information, but if you omit one of the stages, you may be in trouble. Throughout the process, take time to listen to and trust your intuition, then follow its direction. It is imperative to also research options.
We often think intuitive breakthroughs come "out of nowhere," but most come after considerable preparation and exploratory work. Here are the seven stages.
1. Becoming Aware of Uneasy Feelings
Your body and mind may send you messages. These may be verbal, such as "I can hardly wait till Friday!" Or, they may be physical, such a lingering colds or headaches. Such physical cues will persist if ignored. In Mauro's case, his migraines sent clear signals that something wasn't right!
2. Defining the Problem
Look at the emotional issues behind your dissatisfaction and clarify what you are afraid to undertake. Mauro realized he had never really chose to be an engineer. Now he felt stuck there by family obligations. Talking with his wife gave him the needed permission to chuck his job, but he didn't know what to do next.
If you are in Mauro's shoes, articulate the problem. Ask specific questions. For example, "what do I like about my job?" "What do I dislike?" "Can the bad points be resolved by leaving?" Next, face the barriers such as loss of income or other benefits, or guilt that change might create family hardships. Indicate what you can do to minimize these barriers. Then commit to action, whether making a change, modifying your position or staying put.
Mauro's, "I will," was soon followed by, "But can I?" Theses fears are natural, so let them surface and accept them. In many cases you may be trading the known for the unknown.
4. Preparing - Know Yourself and Options
First get to know yourself better. It is crucial to clarify your purpose. Research shows that, in addition to giving meaning and direction to life, a sense of purpose is related to physical and psychological health, high energy and involvement, enthusiasm for life and ability to manage stress.
A good start is to acknowledge your deepest dreams, yearnings, hopes. You must also identify other personal characteristics: interests, needs, values, skills and achievements.
Next, explore options. Mauro yearned to do something creative. But what? In addition to reading government directories such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook and surfing the internet, Mauro used his intuition to further explore options. Intuitive exercises which helped him clarify major life themes included drawing, writing, and guided fantasy. Major themes which emerged included preparing food and serving or helping people.
This knowledge prompted Mauro to focus on investigating options in the food and beverage industry. His research included reading printed and internet materials including books and directories, interviewing successful people in the field, volunteering and working part time in the industry.
Mauro then took a training program with a food chain, where he was quickly promoted to management.
5. Narrowing options and Clarifying Goal
Assessing each option, with criteria that are important to you, sets the stage for an intuitive breakthrough. Don't force an answer. Give your question time to incubate by getting involved in other activities.
Typically, intuitive insights both precede and follow the exhaustive use of analysis and logic. This is why creative insights often come during sleep or vacation, or when we are focused on routine activities.
Mauro was taking a walk when, "The ideas of opening an Italian restaurant just popped into my head."
To market yourself for a new job, establish your own business or return to school, you must act. Action requires commitment and a well-thought-out plan. Make your plans flexible, maintain optimism and believe you will succeed.
One of Mauro's plans included finding an ideal location for his restaurant. He asked his intuition for assistance by asking for guidance before falling asleep. The next day, he was compelled to take a different route home. He found the perfect location: an old barn overlooking a river.
7. Evaluating the Decision
Ensure your intuitive cues are in harmony with the realities of the marketplace. Because Mauro did his homework, he knew what he was getting into. "My only regret is that I stagnated so long before making the move," he said. In a city noted for sophisticated palates, Mauro's restaurant has a dedicated following.
You, too, can achieve your dream. Understand and follow your purpose, work hard, make tradeoffs, call on your intuition and have faith and patience.