Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Career Crossroads? Even a Prince has to make tough decisions!

I imagine that the last thing Prince Harry needs right now is more advice. Today, he announced that he had taken the “really tough decision” to leave the army after 10 years and, although he has some volunteer work lined up for a while, there is plenty of speculation about his next role. And, I suspect, plenty of people offering up opinions about what he could/should/must do.
It’s true that Harry’s circumstances probably differ from ours. (I suspect that financial security is not something he loses sleep over.) However, when he describes being “at a crossroads”, I’m sure many of us can empathise.
The “crossroads” metaphor however makes it sound quite simple; option 1 (turn left), option 2 (turn right) or option 3 (straight ahead). The reality is much more complex and, having made one big decision to leave his current employer, he now faces a series of questions, choices and decisions that could feel quite overwhelming for anyone, even a prince.
So, just in case you don’t have a host of trusted advisors queuing up to help you, here are some tips if you’re at a career crossroads right now:

1. Own your choices

This is your career and your life. Understand what is most important to you (your values) and what you want to create in your life, both personally and professionally.
Allow yourself to imagine what you would do if you knew you couldn't fail. This is not about being selfish, it is about getting really clear. From here, you can consider the impact on others.

2. Listen to your trusted advisors

We often find step 1 difficult because we pre-empt what others will think, say or do about the options we are considering.
Ask for advice, share your concerns and listen to their responses. It can help to choose people who are impacted (e.g. family) as well as those who aren’t (colleagues or friends) to get a range of views.
Remember, choose your advisors wisely. Just because someone has an opinion, does not necessarily mean that is it wanted or useful. Speak to people you care about and who care about you.

3. Imagine the worst (and the best!)

As important as it is to focus on positive outcomes, it is quite normal to ask yourself “what if” when facing a big decision. “What if I don’t like the company/job/people?” “What if my family doesn’t want to move?” “What if change my mind?”
These are all useful questions but we often stop at the questioning stage, because the answers are too difficult or scary. This can stop us making any decision at all.
Allow yourself to imagine the worst case scenario and take it to a logical conclusion. Consider what you’d be willing to change/sacrifice to mitigate those risks. You always have a choice.

4. Take action

Standing at a crossroads soon becomes pretty boring. It doesn’t matter whether you take a small step or a giant leap, as long as you make your choice and take action; even if that action is to stay where you are.
Interestingly, no matter how enormous the decision seems today, from this side, it rarely feels as big from the other side.

5. Return to 1.

Let's be honest, you've probably already faced a few big decisions already and there will be more to come. The good news is that it does get easier with practice. Try these steps for other choices you are faced with and see what difference it makes!
Stephanie Smith works with intelligent individuals on personal impact, choice and change. Find out more and book a sample session at: www.stephaniesmithcoaching.co.uk
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