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How to end overthinking, make career decisions and (finally) move forward

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black and gray cooking pot and frying pan with tomatoes

I’m not really into feeding my family.

I mean, I do it. But it’s one of those grown-up responsibilities I have not mastered (yet).

I’m good at breakfast and lunch, where routine feels acceptable. Dinner demands more creativity than I want to muster. It feels like the sky is the limit, every single night.

Some decisions expire (and that’s often a good thing)

The thing about dinner is it’s coming no matter what. People need to eat. So hanging around in the murky waters of indecision is not an option. Every day without fail, necessity makes me figure it out.

Some career decisions are like that. Like an expiring offer. Or being laid off and being on a time limit because, money.

But many career decisions fall into a wide grey area with no expiry date at all. Which means the murky waters of indecision become home to many people.

It takes a toll on your wellbeing.

Here are three things to do if you’re in the murky waters of indecision and you want to become more decisive about your future.

Get comfortable with changing your mind

Some of you come to me for help. You tell me you’ve thought of everything and you still don’t know what to do (about your career).

I get this. Overthinking people are my kind of people.

And when you say you’ve thought of everything, you usually have covered a lot of ground.

What’s preventing you from landing is simple: in the background of all that useful thinking, you’ve been playing this thought over and over to yourself: “I don’t know what to do.”

You have not made the decision to exit indecision.

You need to get comfortable changing your mind about that.

It could be as simple as introducing a thought like this: my next step is becoming clearer every day.

Introduce milestones

Once you open yourself up to exiting indecision, you can introduce milestones. Think of it as the numbers on the clock that tell you: it’s time for dinner.

For some, a decision deadline works. Then again, if it were that simple, you might not be in the murky waters of indecision to begin with.

With something as complex as your career path, introducing different kinds of milestones can help.

A weekly or monthly check-in to see what’s gone well and hasn’t at work, and what’s on your mind regarding your next steps, is simple and powerful.

You can do this on your own or with a coach. The point is to increase your awareness in a more structured way, acknowledging shifts in your perception and the passage of time.

Gather data

Regular check-ins are also an opportunity to gather data. Chances are you’ve been ruminating on the generalities (most people do). Some things may have grown bigger in your mind – like how angry you were when they hired externally for the role you had wanted, etc. Other things may have moved into a background category where they’re taken for granted, like how much you love the flexibility you have.

The goal here is to look at facts and patterns and use that information to help move you out of the murky waters. For example:

  • Keeping a record (for yourself) of the projects or tasks that are working for you, or not, and why
  • Keeping a record of how you are being treated at work, good or bad
  • Keeping a record of your general wellbeing day to day with respect to your work
  • Introducing some parameters around these records, like, if I finish the day miserable for half the month, is that something I can live with?

Be an action taker

If you’ve ever felt stuck, you know it can seep into all kinds of unrelated places. Action breeds action, inaction breeds inaction.

Maybe you’re not quite clear on your next step yet. Maybe taking action on leaving your job, or getting real with your boss about the change you’re looking for, etc., still feels premature. The steps above should help with that, but it could still take some time.

Not being ready for your big career decision quite yet doesn’t mean the Narrative of Being Stuck needs to permeate everything.

Decide to take action somewhere. Anywhere. Change something. Do something differently. Introduce something new.

I’m cheering you on.

Want to learn about coaching? Here is a link to get on my calendar for a free intro session.

What do you think?

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