“You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.”
It is said that the average working person makes approximately 15 decisions before 9am. For some of us the first decision can be something as minor as how many times can I hit the snooze button before getting up! Every day though we face thousands of decisions. Some are relatively small such as what will I wear; whilst others are much more significant. Some have short-term effects and others more long term effects. However, regardless of what our decisions are – action or no action – there is no escaping the fact that we all live with the consequences of our choices.
Creating career choice is one of the greatest challenges we all face – especially as we progress through the ranks of experience and seniority. Given the fast moving and ever changing nature of the world today, we as individuals and leaders need to have a passion for personal growth and development. Having a solid road map for that growth and development is essential if we are to continually expand both our capabilities and our degree of choice.
No doubt each of us will have a friend or colleague who always seems to be surrounded by several career choices that are the perfect fit for them. What is it about those people that somehow catches the eye of others; or when they put their hand up for a change there seems to be not one but several choices for them to consider? I believe it is due to several factors:
- Clarity about what they want
- Confidence in pursuing their ambitions
- Relevance to their organisation and market place
As readers of this blog you will know that I believe that the three keys to creating career success are clarity, confidence and choice.
Omitting or disregarding the factor of choice is like electing to sit on a two-legged stool. Whilst you can balance for a while, in time it becomes unstable and down right dangerous. Unstable and dangerous because you are at risk of losing control over your own career pathway and your level of fulfillment.
Take a moment to reflect on a time in your career when you have felt as though you were left with no choice but to adopt a certain decision, accept a certain job or follow a certain path. Invariably you will have felt caged in, disempowered and frustrated. Conversely when you feel as though you have had a choice on how to act or where to invest time, money or effort, you will have felt empowered, confident and in control.
With stagnation – and not failure – being the real risk to our career, we need to ensure that we are investing our time and efforts in building personal capability and relevance to the organisations we work for and the markets we work in. Failing to do so will see our career choices dramatically diminished.
So what actions can you take to create career choice?
- Evaluate: Get clear about what you want! This requires you to fully understand your own skills, behaviours, motivations and preferences.
If you are to create genuine growth and or change in your career you also need to evaluate what steps are required to elevate your capability, career currency and relevance to either your current employer or the market place. What can you do to build and leverage your experience and showcase it?
Without this degree of clarity you risk not identifying the choices before you.
- Prepare: Once you have clarity about what you want, you can prepare a strategy or road map for getting there.
For some, understanding that the best thing they can do right now is excel in the opportunity they currently have will provide renewed focus and energy for their role at hand. Additionally it will allow them to implement a long-term strategy of career leverage with confidence and purpose.
For those who are actively exploring the market, preparing a personal business and marketing plan will be critical to their effectiveness in engaging with potential organisations and people of influence.
- Act: Engage: with your team, your business, your market and your network. Listen to what you hear from both sought and unsought sources. Validate what you hear. Does it apply and if so, how?
Understanding that we need to continually act, adapt and in many cases unlearn and relearn is what will build and sustain relevance to our business and market.
Life is full of choices and there is a natural give and take in every resulting decision. Even choosing not to act is still a choice. To make wise, well-informed and educated choices you must weigh up the risks against the potential rewards.
When it comes to career decisions rarely will they ever be black and white, all good or all bad, completely right or completely wrong. They are multi dimensional and require you to look at the opportunity(s) with your own unique lens that is reflective of your own personal ambitions.
Understanding though that our long-term growth and success is the result of conscious choices and deliberate effort is critical if we are to create real momentum and fulfillment. Learning how to recognise and create choice is what will set us apart.
As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.