Career Key

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

Monday, February 22, 2010

5 Ways to Channel Your Inner Career Choice Optimist - Being Realistic but Optimistic

If you’re in the process of choosing a career and looking at career options, you’re surrounded by enough bad news to make you a “paralytic decision-maker.” Like discouraging findings from the new report, “The Labor Market, Then and Now” from the John J. Heldrich Center on Workforce Development:
  • U.S. Government employment projections have historically been proven wrong. 
  • Job satisfaction is at its lowest level since the data was first tracked. 
  • Baby boomers are not retiring like they were supposed to so there are fewer jobs than expected. 
  • In the last decade, the time it takes to find a job has gone from 3 to 6 months (there go your savings!).
and the list goes on....

Not to mention all the doom and gloom predictions about the U.S. “empire” going down the tubes due to “do-nothing” politics and overwhelming deficits. It’s been so bad I substituted watching Stephen Colbert’s Winter Olympics for online news this week.
So instead of putting on Leonard Cohen CDs and opening a bottle of strong medicine, what’s the forward-looking, hard-working career decision-maker to do with all this gloomy outlook? I call it channeling your inner optimist - being realistic but optimistic. Here are 5 ways to do that:
  1. Make sure you have realistic expectations of the career choice process.  No matter how much research you do, how many assessments you take, what informational interviews you conduct - your choice is a calculated risk.  That’s why important decisions are hard - you can never be 100% sure your choice will result in success. Prepare to be adaptable and surprised. 
  2. Explore all aspects of the career decision process in a methodical way - confronting your fears and negative consequences of your choice with a plan to respond to them. Use our 4 step “High Quality Decisions” article and the downloadable “decision balance sheet” to get started.  Write down your thoughts - it's called bibliotherapy and writing therapy - it works and it's free!
  3. Rely on the best resources for career information you can, knowing their weaknesses and strengths.  Although the government job outlook data can be proven incorrect (maybe God should be hired as a consultant to predict job growth), it has also been proven correct for many occupations. The government uses data from individual states and provinces, relying on labor economic experts to compile it but it often lags a few years behind.  As long as you treat it as only one piece of the puzzle, government information can be useful. 
  4. Rely on scientifically valid self-assessments - ones that are proven to measure what they say they measure. Otherwise you may make a decision you regret.  The Career Key is not the only valid test; we recommend you take other tests and assessments in addition to The Career Key. Just be careful and discriminating about tests on the Internet because very few have scientific validity. If you are a college graduate, make sure you take advantage of your school’s career center that may offer valid tests for free or a nominal fee. 
  5. Think “right” thoughts. Your thoughts help determine your behavior and actions so treat your career choice and career development with a positive outlook. If you believe you will fail, you will. Cognitive psychology research has shown this to be true.  Books from positive psychology thought leaders like Dr. Martin Seligman and cognitive psychology experts like Dr. David Burns can help. Make sure to surround yourself with positive people to support your efforts.


Laura E. Sanchez said...

This is a very complete article about career choice, very nice


Lloyd said...

Very nice tips for Career Choice