On making career decisions and doubt

I don't love the feeling of doubt. The feeling when you wake up in the night and options keep circling around in your head. And I especially dislike the fact that when it comes to actual career options, you can rarely ever compare options right next to each other like ice cream flavors, it's more like trains at a train station where you choose one that goes somewhere without knowing if 10 minutes later a train to a much nicer destination will leave.

I would really like my brain to be a computer in that way, where I feed information, the computer compares it to the criteria I've set for a decision and then it spits out a yes or no answer.

So what I've tried to do this year is make a clear list of things that I would want in a job and things that I particularly don't want. Some things are easy: I don't want to commute for more than an hour on a daily basis. However, other things are less easy to turn into a clear list to feed into the decision making flow chart.

And a computer would never be flattered when someone suggests a job that they hadn't considered before just because someone suggests they might be good at it, whereas my brain starts to doubt whether to change the criteria when something like that happens.

Or maybe I'm overthinking this too much?

5 responses so far

  • PhDPower says:

    Overthinking? No, on the contrary: You are right on track!
    When I coach people (mostly PhD graduates) on career orientation and decision-taking, this is exactly what I ask them to do. Indeed, it can be quite challenging to define the 'other things' and that is why I provide support in structuring this and teach them how to identify suitable positions that correspond to the list.

    Don't worry if new suggestions or criteria come up when talking to people. This is just finding out criteria or options you had not considered before. You may find it puzzling but on the other hand: Isn't it nice to refine your list and discover new suitable options? There are various jobs that suit your profile. Gogo inbabyattachmode!

  • Zuska says:

    The two best jobs I ever had were:
    1. A type of job I never knew existed till someone suggested I apply for it. But it meant having a commuter relationship.
    2. A type of job I knew about, but with a company I'd never heard of, till someone suggested I apply for it. It brought the end of the commuter relationship (in that we could live together again, not the end of the relationship).

    It's good to be open to options and sometimes your criteria change because of the job on offer - or because of what your current job is costing you.

    • babyattachmode says:

      Yes I agree that it’s impossible to define a set of criteria that won’t ever change again. It would just be nice because it would resolve my near constant doubts about what step to take... 🤔

  • peirama says:

    I keep thinking I should do this but putting it off because it is so hard! I wish there was someone who could just watch me work and figure out what I'm good at and what I like to do! Someone suggested to me to set a timer for random times throughout the day and when it goes off to evaluate what I'm doing and how I feel about it. I haven't done it yet, but it seems like a good way to be intentional about the process.

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