How Should We Make Decisions Today that Will Influence Our Future?
There are times in our careers — and our lives — where we are faced with decisions that will influence everything that comes after.
We might be offered a new opportunity or position that will provide higher pay or some other reward but comes with more responsibility and will require more time and effort. Or, conditions at our current position might change, tempting us to look for a job elsewhere — or even strike out on our own.
While we might know what we want to do, the higher the impact the decision could possibly have on our life raises the need to factor risk into the equation. Desire should be a major component in our decision-making process, but it is also crucial to recognize that there are consequences to our actions. In the Theory of 5, we’ve learned that when it comes to major decisions, the advice and counsel of more-experienced mentors is invaluable.
Before getting their guidance, however, let’s frame the decision in our minds the best we can.
Best-case vs. Worst-case Scenarios
When faced with career-altering choices, it’s necessary to examine the pros and cons of each fork in the road.
In the experience I’ve gained from living a Theory of 5 lifestyle, I’ve learned that the fear of failure can be worse for us in the long run than actually failing from time to time and gaining valuable, hard-won wisdom. The easy path, generally, is to play it safe and never take a chance when we’re not offered a “guaranteed” outcome. The path to our best lives, however, is often found when we take a calculated risk to earn a greater reward.
When faced with a decision, consider both outcomes. Imagine if the decision you make leads to both rational and wildly optimistic outcomes. Would these outcomes fulfill you? Would you and your family lead better lives because of them? Now, imagine the worst. Would you be able to regroup from a “crash and burn”? Could you and your family recover?
Are We Ready to Pay the Price?
If we decide to take the chance of greater risk with the potential of greater reward, we must ask ourselves a simple but critical question: Are we ready to give it our all?
When we enter a zone of greater risk, the two factors totally under our control are our attitude and effort. In order to win, we must be willing to take massive action to achieve our desired results. We are going to have to put more hours in — at the task itself and in educating ourselves to improve our opportunities to win.
We will have to sacrifice time doing things we like to do for things we need to do for a while, but this won’t last forever. By putting in the time and effort with a positive attitude, we will minimize the risk and maximize the potential for reward. If, for whatever reason, this effort isn’t a possibility, that will support making our decision.
Playing it “Safe”
One mistake many people have when facing a decision is not factoring in the risk involved of not making a choice. The “safe” path might seem to have guarantees, but chances are that safety is just an illusion. Nothing in our career — or life — is guaranteed. When we work for someone else, others are going to be making decisions for us; the further down the ladder we are, the more people in higher positions there are who can have a dramatic effect on our career.
One other variable to take into account is regret. Years from now, will you be telling yourself “I should have/could have/would have”? Imagine yourself looking back at this moment; which decision will you be more proud of making? Will you believe you missed your big moment? Will you feel like you dodged a bullet? Or will this be the moment that everything started to come together for you?
Some choices might have less risk than others, but it is important to keep in mind that not making a choice is a choice.
The Value of Mentors
Once we have the decision framed in our mind, now is the time to talk to a trusted mentor. If they’ve been in a similar position, their guidance will be invaluable. They can share with us times where they’ve faced decisions and were rewarded by their choices, and there are probably times where they’ve wished they would have taken another path. They can also assist us in seeing factors we might not have taken into consideration that will allow us to make a more informed decision.
Courage and preparation — along with the wisdom of our mentors — are the keystones to making informed decisions that will lead to rewarding outcomes.
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