Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Don't be Blind to Family and Friends' Influence on Career Decisions

When you have trouble making a career decision, you may rely on family members' and friends' reactions to break a "tie." How can you include their reaction and input in your decision to choose a career, make a career change, or start a business? You're going to get their feedback anyway so you might as well wisely use it. That means considering the "Consequences" of your different career options by looking at:
  • The gains and losses to significant others (e.g., parents, wife (or husband), other family members, close friends, or groups you value: social, political or religious).
  • Whether important people (see bullet above) in your life would approve or disapprove of your choice.
You can write down your thoughts about these issues on a free "Decision Balance Sheet" you can download from our website, along with other suggested activities, so that you won't fall into the trap of making a decision you'll regret.

One of my favorite columnists, David Brooks at the New York Times, published a column today on "The Culture of Debt" that describes most decision-making in a realistic way:

"... people are driven by the desire to earn the respect of their fellows. Individuals don’t build their lives from scratch. They absorb the patterns and norms of the world around them.

Decision-making — whether it’s taking out a loan or deciding whom to marry — isn’t a coldly rational, self-conscious act. Instead, decision-making is a long chain of processes, most of which happen beneath the level of awareness. We absorb a way of perceiving the world from parents and neighbors. We mimic the behavior around us. Only at the end of the process is there self-conscious oversight."

The key to making a good career decision is to avoid the blindness and lack of self-awareness Mr. Brooks describes. If you do that, you'll be more likely to accept or reject friendly advice on a more rational basis. There is nothing wrong with or abnormal about considering other people's opinions and advice in making a career decision; just consider them as part of a larger process. The suggested, scientifically proven steps described in our website article "High-Quality Decisions" will help you make a good decision.

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