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In today’s minisode, we look at a question that I have been inundated with in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that is a career crossroads.
People are getting to this point as they’ve realised what’s truly important in life; something internally tells them, “I need a sea change or just a whole new career direction.” They're just done. Or they’ve had new opportunities come out of the blue and they’re trying to make that hard decision. What I would like to arm you with today is a process to follow so as to set you up for success.
I'm reminded of that line, “Two paths diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” But when you come to that career crossroads moment, I don't want you to just take the path less travelled. I want you to stop and pause and actually use a little bit of deep thinking and a little bit of science to then take the path most congruent to YOU, and that will make all the difference.
Assessing opportunities the right way
Six months ago, I got a call from a CEO who was in-between roles and had been trying to get back into the corporate world for quite some time. All of a sudden, out of the blue, he had three opportunities – two CEO roles and one as a Founder. He said, “I just need your help talking through this process. How do we make a really good decision here? They're all quite interesting and they're competing with each other quite well.”
So, we caught up together, and I sent him a couple of things in advance. The first was just a bit of a values elicitation process. I really wanted him to be certain of the top four or five values that he holds really dear to himself. And the second is any general core principles he applies to decision-making in the real world. Those two are normally very closely aligned anyway.
What we did was get all of these things out on paper, and then we just went through a really simple assessment process of the opportunities against the values and principles. We created three columns (Opportunity A, B, C) and about 10 rows (value/principle). Once we worked through the table, it took him about six minutes to make a decision. Prior to that, it had been days and days of back and forth. “What do I do? Is the money enough? Is the size of the role or the job title enough?” All that disappears when you take the right approach, namely a values-based one.
Validation using the GREAT Method
At Chief Maker we use a framework called the GREAT method – Game plan, Routines, Entourage, Assets, Track record.
It starts with a Game plan, Chief. What is your career game plan? What's the vision for you and your family in the next 10 years? If you haven't done that little piece of work about values, about what makes you unique, what makes you so special in who you are, and the dreams and the vision you've got, how can you possibly make an informed decision that is right for you?
I guarantee you, the decision will be that much easier if you’ve got your values and vision nailed. The pitfalls that come when you don't do it are plentiful. You end up making a decision purely based on money or purely based on role title or purely based on the company that you're going to work for. Sometimes, you sacrifice the things that are most important like the content of the role, the quality of the people you're going to be working for, or how this will relate to the role that you want to get to. There’s just too much short-termism.
You've got to be thinking, “Where do I want to be 10 years from now in my career and my roles? Will this role get me one step closer?” Otherwise, you're making short-term calls that don't make any sense. And you don't have to be perfect and know exactly what the future holds, but you certainly need to have a good sense of the direction you want to go.
Also, if you're not happy in your current role, you have to understand why that is. We now know in the science of happiness and joy, that if you're in flow and thriving in your current job, the people that live with you thrive more. And what drives people to be happy in their job? Interest and passion in the work, coupled with technical expertise and mastery.
Career excellence is key
Furthermore, career excellence is massively interlinked with making the right decision in this crossroads moment.
Think back to a time in your career when you were in your favourite job of your whole life. Ask yourself what was different about that to the role you’re in now? What would it take to get that feeling back?
Think about your Game plan, it would have fit your career direction. You were probably getting momentum, had the right rhythm and Routines. You had an Entourage by gaining a network. You were building Assets via your technical expertise and experience. And ultimately, you were nailing a track record in that role and people knew you could deliver for them.
So, when you have a career crossroads, ask yourself, “Have I owned my career and optimised it and taken on excellence in the current role?” If the answer is no, I guarantee you it's not going to happen in the next job.
Career crossroads is all about reflection. In your current role, ask yourself, “What more could I own? What more could I be better at? Chief, there is an online programme in the Chief Maker Academy called Game Plan; there's about 20 videos that really talk you through every aspect so that you can get your career on track.
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