3 Ways to Overcome Career Indecision

“There is no right choice, only good choosing.” - Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, Designing Your Life

The career FOMO problem

Why is it sometimes so hard to make a choice? More than fear of making the wrong choice, it’s often fear of not making the best possible, perfect, right choice. Because what if you miss out on something even better? 

It can be especially weighted when thinking about your next career move. Once you get through figuring out some things you might want to do, how do you know which is the right one? Or if the right one’s even on your list??

The problem of too many choices. It can leave you petrified to move forward. Which not only means you’re stuck in the same unsatisfied place, delaying the gratification that comes with confident forward action, but also that you’re probably saying a lot of really mean things to yourself, like, “I guess I’m just lazy, indecisive, selfish, never going to be happy…(insert awful thing you say about yourself here).”

Ugh. You’re so mean! I know that feeling.

You don’t have to be a winemaker to be happy (but it’s okay if you are!) 

Unsatisfied in my corporate advertising career and struggling to figure out what I really wanted to do, I spent ten months digging deep and eventually came up with a list of 18 things that, if I could achieve all, would translate to my dream job.

The real struggle was coming up with a list of possible jobs that might fit these criteria. Beyond some unformulated ideas, all I really came up with was coaching…and winemaker. 

Now, I really don’t know all that much about wine. But doesn’t that sound cool? Totally! Until I learned what it really entailed and how much money I had the potential to make. If that’s for you, that’s awesome! For me, I think I’ll stick with ‘wine consumer’.  

So what about coaching?

I spoke to a lot of coaches and learned about what their day to day really looked like, the struggles and triumphs, the skills they used to be successful. So many of the aspects in coaching fit exactly what I was looking for. 

So what was my next obvious step? Reject the idea entirely, of course. I felt certain this couldn’t be the right job for me. Instead of moving forward, I sat in woe thinking about how much time and effort and money and emotion I had spent searching in vain for my dream job.

Stop thinking about it already. 

Exhausted and exasperated, unable to move forward and not knowing what else to do, I took a break from thinking about it.

This was around the holidays, I had off from my paying job, and I took a vacation from my second job, trying to figure out my next career.

It turns out, shutting off the agonizing was what I needed. A couple of weeks later and what felt like completely out of the blue, it suddenly came to me. “Oh. Coaching. That makes so much sense.”

And it did. I realized I’d been coaching all along. My Dad was a coach of sorts, and taught me many of the career search ropes. I’d often coached friends and colleagues on their careers and career searches (welcome advice or not). Caring for and supporting my team’s advancement was what I loved most about my current role.

Now, when I tell former colleagues what I do, they say, “Oh. That makes so much sense.” (Highly validating, by the way.)

So why all the resistance? 

In part, at the time, coaching didn’t seem big enough, cool enough, different enough. When we spend so much time imagining another life, it can feel like it has to be this epic departure.

I wanted my ‘next life’ to be so different from what I was doing before, from what anyone said I should do, different from the box I felt I’d been put in and had put myself in. I wanted it to be the most cool thing

I worried there was something else out there I was missing. Even if that were true, I could spend years in search of the “perfect” job and find myself in the same exact spot. Unsatisfied, undecided and miserable.

What I realized on the journey was that, like it or not, we are the sum of our natural skills and inclinations, and also of our experiences. All the steps I’d taken in my life, my career, the struggles I’d had, weren’t the things I needed to move away from, but instead pointed to the answer. 

My long-term struggle trying to figure out what to do in my career actually became my passion.  Now I want so badly for everyone to break out of that struggle of not being happy and not knowing what to do, and to find the thing that lights them up each day. Like I did.

Once I let go of the idea that I needed to keep searching for some yet-to-be-discovered perfect job floating out there, I realized I could take a step right now toward greater happiness and fulfillment. That decision to move forward into a coaching career gave me the greatest sense of relief, joy and excitement, and has translated into a career I absolutely love.

Struggling to make your decision? Below are some steps you can take:

1. Do your research

Gather information to make an educated decision. What you think something might be like may not be what it’s like in reality. Know what you really want out of your job and your lifestyle, and then talk to people in similar roles to figure out if there’s a fit. 

2. Let go of the myth of perfect

I know, I know. Easier said than done. Put it this way, you could research every job that exists and not find one without some downside. If you’ve done your homework then you’ll have a pretty good idea if the choice in front of you fits most of what you’re looking for (in work and in life).

3. When in doubt, get quiet

Sometimes not thinking about a choice is the only way it will come to you. You’ve done the external work, now let go of worrying about it and let it manifest!

Have a similar story? I’d love to hear about it!

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Still working on coming up with your list of career ideas? We can talk about that, too! Find me at christineoneillcoaching.com

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash