How to Make Career Decisions That You Will Not Regret for Life

We have become so obsessed with progressing quickly to reach our career goals that we try to avoid making any bad career moves as best we can. The problem with this is that avoiding making decisions we fear we’ll regret actually inhibits our ability to grow and learn.

Trying to be so careful and stay on the one road we’ve pinned all our career progression steps along, we don’t fully exercise our potential. We slow our speed of progress because we’re trying not to hit the guard rails.

To never make a single career decision you regret from this point onward mostly requires some simple yet significant shifts in your perspective. All that’s required is a willingness to look inward and make a few adjustments.

Are you ready to get started?

1. Work with a Career Counselor and Determine Your Career Self-Efficacy

Career self-efficacy is your level of belief in your capability to perform behaviors that will satisfy your definition of career development. That level of belief to make good choices and perform to standards and expectations required in the next step you choose has a massive impact on whether or not you perform well.

Whether or not you perform well, in turn, affects whether or not you regret your decision in the first place.

Examining your career self-efficacy with a career counselor or psychologist won’t just help you recognize what level of belief you have in yourself to make smart career decisions. You will also learn why you make decisions the way you do.

Verbal persuasion, obtaining advice from people you respect, environmental factors and the level of emotional and personal satisfaction you predict you’ll receive are all factors which influence which signpost your follow.

The Career Decision-Making Self-efficacy Scale has been one of the most commonly used, evidence-based psychometric assessments to help individuals navigate which way to go when they hit a crossroads. This tool combined with the Skills Confidence Inventory have been shown to be strong positive influences in helping individuals make decisions which shape a career pathway of no regrets.

Combining insight through these tools with perspectives from a trained professional in this space, you’re guaranteed to consolidate greater trust in yourself to make decisions which don’t just serve your present goals but your future ones.

2. Take Ownership and Set Milestones for Your Career

Do you wait to catch the next lucrative looking career wave to come to shore? If so, you’re not in charge of determining where you’ll end up. You’re at the mercy of someone else’s decision-making. It’s time you step into the pilot’s seat.

When Dr. Glenn Richards, veterinarian and founder of Greencross Vets was returning to Australia in London in 1993 at the tender age of 26, he had a firm goal to stop being an employee and own a single location practice.

En route home via train across Siberia to China, Dr. Richard’s vodka-fuelled discussions with Ukrainian construction miners with grand dreams to leave mining, gave his mindset a turbo boost. With ideas to use their mining income to start businesses for their own families and leave mining altogether, they prodded Richards to think bigger. One year later, Greencross Vets was born.

Fast-forward 13 years, Greencross Vets became the first enterprise of its kind to be listed publicly on the Australian Stock Exchange. Today, it spans 130 clinics across Australasia with more pet care partners under the Greencross Limited entity.

Setting gradual milestones starting with one clinic, then 10, then 50 and beyond, Dr. Richard’s success was no accident. He created the legacy from nothing.

Regardless of whether you’re an employee or business owner, don’t wait for instructions to be dictated to you. Whether you succeed or not is up to you. The leap in confidence through a sense of ownership for your own journey will be incredibly satisfying. That in itself will be hard to regret.

3. Learn to See Your Mistakes as Progress No Matter What

Carol Dweck’s highly reputed research and guidance on developing and exercising a growth mindset((Mindset Works: Dr. Dweck’s discovery of fixed and growth mindsets have shaped our understanding of learning)) should be advice you constantly refer to in your ten commandments of career decision-making. By practicing and learning to look for the lessons in every bad career decision, you’ll find it difficult to regret any future career move you make.

Embracing awareness of how bad decisions make you nosedive mentally, emotionally and physically can be your biggest arsenal to making far better choices. The lessons can be a swift and hard kick that derail many areas of your life, not just your career. However, after intelligently spending time processing the collateral damage, you do learn them.

Learning from a business psychologist or therapist how to recognize and proactively process pangs of anger, frustration, disappointment and kicks to confidence from a decision setback will have you back on the playing field in no time.

As you come out of the storm, look back and ask yourself:

  • What have I learned about myself from this?
  • What did I miss?
  • What strength have I now gained?
  • How can I do things differently next time a similar challenge shows up?

You’ll spend less time delaying your career progression by not wasting as much time and energy in avoidance-mode and realizing you have the resources within you to rebound from the setbacks.

Note that none of these questions include the words ‘should’, ‘could’ or ‘would’!

4. Grow Yourself a Team of Mentors You Admire and Gain Qualified Insight

You are likely to come across those whose recommendations are well-intended but are nearsighted. Those who’ve never run a business (or a successful one at that) are always quick to tell you what to do.

It’s essential you seek and plug into mentors, mastermind groups and others who have the career runs on the board you’re chasing, to get accurate advice and feedback.

Ask questions. Offer to volunteer on projects. Invite their assessment on your competence and performance. You’ll quickly learn your limits, make even more informed career decisions at every step and build incredible relationships that reap opportunities and rewards in ways you can’t yet see.

Expect some decisions you make might leave your friends and family thinking you’re crazy. In your heart and mind, you’ll know it’s the right step because your brain’s trust network can provide true intelligence concerning the path that lies ahead of you.

5. Allow Wriggle Room in Every Role You Take

As either a business owner or employee, factor in space for unexpected growth opportunities and room for error.

Even though the recruitment and interview process with your would-be new manager makes you feel like you’re Cinderella who’s finally met their Prince Charming, be open to the possibility of unexpected hidden surprises. Your next role could encompass activities and responsibilities you’d rather only touch with a ten-foot pole!

Learning you now have a small team to lead, even though you imagined only becoming an expert technician in your industry, might be enough to send chills down your spine. Such a challenge, however, is likely to be your biggest growth opportunity.

You will make a lot of mistakes but you’re also likely to surprise yourself in uncovering hidden skills and talents as a leader! Expect hidden surprises – good and bad- and you can’t really take a step wrong.

6. Keep Revising Your Career Map

Successful businesses thrive on innovation and transformation. As good as this sounds, it can have a serious impact on your career decision-making. Recent research indicates that 60% of young people are being trained for jobs that are going to be obsolete in the next 10 to 15 years thanks to the rise of technological automation and globalization.((FYA.Org: The New Work Order))

You’re never immune to events which could force you to change career trajectory altogether. Also, consider that you also may only ever reach a certain level in your chosen career and never hit your intended pinnacle. You can, however, learn to turn career lemons into lemonade!

Having won the world cup, Jeremy Bloom was pegged to win the men’s moguls freestyle skiing as the youngest contender ever at a very fresh 19 years of age. He finished a disappointing ninth at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games in 2002.

After winning six consecutive world cups, Bloom was again pegged to win gold at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy in 2006. He devastatingly finished sixth. Bloom penned in his biography Fueled by Failure that after just forty-eight hours of embracing and processing the emotional and mental torture, he was backfiring at 100mph and on a plane back to the U.S. to play in the NRL and be eventually drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles.

In 2008, Bloom founded the charity Wish of a Lifetime and two years later, Integrate, a software marketing company which earned the title of ‘Best New Company’ at the American Business Awards. Forbes credited Bloom as being one of the top most influential people in technology under 30 years of age.

Don’t just think linearly when deciding each step of your career. It can be limiting to your detriment. Dare to dream and let your imagination run wild.

Pop icon singer and songwriter Madonna writes children’s books whilst Lady Gaga is driving a program that provides mental health first aid training in schools! Constantly think widely of ways you can be vocationally daring to capitalize on your wide range of skills and experience.

7. Consider Having a Side-Business as a Buffer

Having a side-business won’t only sustain your income should a decision to go completely sour. It could be the saving grace to your mental health, without which, your world will stop.

Developing a side-hustle will help you maintain the momentum of a working mindset. You’re contributing to purposeful activity and staying connected with the working economy.

Consider ways you can individually expand the scope of services (and products) you can provide within your industry. Choose or create a product or service relevant to your work and industry that you can continue either alongside – or without you necessarily operating in – your full-time day job.

Psychologist in training, Benjamin Hardy decided he wanted to become a writer back in 2010 as well as become an organizational psychologist. From writing article on Medium, he developed his pen skills to become the most popular writer on the platform within eighteen months which led to the recent publication of his first book for which he was consigned $300K to write. Prior to this, he developed his first online course which yielded just under $100K in the first seventy-two hours of its launch. Hardy still has yet to complete his Ph.D.

We may not all be Benjamin Hardy but, his example can provide inspiration for you to think a little out of the box.

If you are/were a successful digital marketer, you might consider looking at learning how to launch an e-commerce, drop-shipping business that doesn’t require you to store or handle inventory. The business could yield you revenue in addition to your digital marketing services. It could also expand and house you continuing to hone your marketing expertise as you apply your existing skill set to your side-gig.

If you found yourself suddenly retrenched or experienced a drop in client numbers running your main digital marketing services business, your side-gig can still dance to the tune you wish to play.

When you’ve reached certain stages in your career, the altruistic urge starts to kick in. The desire to give back, beckons. Teaching others from the practical experience you’ve accumulated, thus, far provides golden fodder to others hungry to follow the trail you’ve already blazed.

Whether it be creating an online course, guest lecturing or tutoring at a college or training organization, it can actually be a powerful step to keep you improving your expertise and continue gaining greater clarity about the next career decisions you’ll make.

There’s an incredible benefit to creating and developing a side-gig that greatly reduces the possibility of experiencing regret from your choices.

The Bottom Line

There will be decisions you make in your career that will yield you complete elation. Others you make will have you questioning if you made them in a sound state of mind. Above all, listen to your gut instinct.

Make choices based on your values, ethics and principles you hold at the time of making your decisions.

Always remember that you used whatever resources, knowledge and insight you had available to you at the time to make the right choice. Remember this and you will never regret a decision from this day forward.

More Resources to Help You Lead a Fulfilling Career

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