Career Mastery™ Tip

How to Make the Right Career Decisions

Idea

When you're looking ahead to your next career moves, it can be tempting to go for the assignments or jobs that everyone wants: the ones that are sought-after by the crowd.

But as one of my bosses said, “be careful what you ask for – sometimes you might just get it”. And if you aren’t thoughtful about your decisions, that’s when you discover that you may not enjoy that sought-after job once you get it. In other words, you end up with a job that you can do well but feels like “hard work” rather than something that energizes and interests you. So, even when you win, you can lose.

To avoid that unhappy situation, you need to be clear on not just what you’re great at, but also what you love doing. When you stay in that sweet spot of activities you “excel at and love”, you set yourself up for greater success – the kind that makes for a great career that brings you (and others) joy.

Example

One of my clients is a successful businessman who has grown a modest company into the best-in-class for that industry. Let’s call him Ben.

As he gets ready to step down to make room for the next generation of leaders, many organizations have approached him to take on senior roles. These are roles that others would love to have at the pinnacle of global industry.

Yet, Ben is not excited about most of them. When we talked about the reasons for his reaction, it became clear that while these were all seemingly great opportunities, they would be using skills he knows he is great at, but which feel like “hard work”; for example, courting investors, traveling to site visits, meticulously executing on the strategy. Those are things he excels at doing but doesn’t love.

Instead, he would rather be devising the strategy, empowering others to execute and making an impact in a new field.

Having gained this clarity, Ben is ready to take a more proactive approach in his search for what he does want: a role that combines what he excels at and also loves.

His insight is: across your career, people will be proposing roles at which they believe you would excel. However, you are the only one who knows which of those you would also love and feel energized to do. Get to know what these are, share it with others, and put yourself in a position to have and make better choices.

Action

Identify the things you do really well. Then separate them into two categories:

  1. Those you both excel at and love – as in, you could do these for a long time and feel happy.
  2. Those that you excel at but don’t love – these are often learned behaviors that you do really well, but that can feel like “hard work”.

For your current role, observe how much time you spend on the first category versus the second category. Then, see how you can shift more of your time into the activities you both excel at and love.

If you’re setting up for your next career challenge, then look at the extent to which you can structure that new role or project to maximize your time spent in that “both excel at and love” category.

How could this help your performance and bring more joy to what you do?

Join the conversation

10 Comments

  1. Cindy

    All of your tips have been really helpful May, thank you. Cindy

    Reply
  2. Dawn G

    I wish I'd been able to follow along in real time, and really work on the course as it was meant to be done. Nonetheless, I've found even the “intensive” version to be very helpful. Thanks so much for making it available.

    Dawn

    Reply
    • May Busch

      Glad you've found the Tips useful, Dawn.

      Best,
      May

      Reply
  3. Juliet

    May, I have found all your comments interesting and thought provoking but this one is particularly useful. Thank you for a really excellent programme. Juliet

    Reply
  4. Pedro

    Excellent explanation, May, thank you for advice, myself i feel professional when i do what i know to do, so excel is the key to performance my skill, and the Company progress.

    Reply
  5. Fletcher

    I am in the process of changing my career. I earned a Bachelors degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Forensic psychology. I entered into a doctoral program in Pastoral Community counseling and the school closed this month. My passion is to help people, especially delinquent juveniles. Now I will enroll into another school to pursue Criminal Justice and help juveniles through rehabilitation programs. I was indecisive in what I wanted to do until I read your column and felt that I would love to help people within the community. Thanks for your advice. I know what I would love to do for a change of career.

    Kindly regards,
    Fletcher

    Reply
    • May Busch

      Dear Fletcher,

      I am filled with joy to know you have achieved this clarity, which so many still seek. And I am deeply grateful that I have had an opportunity to help you in your discovery process.

      What a wonderful mission you have. I look forward to hearing about your marvelous journey and the lives you change for the better.

      Keep going!

      Best,
      May

      Reply
  6. RAYMOND GORDON

    Thanks for the brilliant way in-which you shared the great insights from your friend ! I am nearing the end of my marathon ( career ) and the arrival of this information could not have come at a better time . You see , I have been at the crossroads , trying to decide what my next move would be . Those words of wisdom your friend shared May will play a role in determining the path I will take . Thanks so much for all of the tips in this current series – and all of the Outstanding Caliber of career advice Career Mastery consistently provides !

    Reply
    • May Busch

      You're welcome, Raymond, and I'm wishing you well in your next move!

      Reply
  7. Elizabeth Passante

    Thank you May Busch for your exemplary mini presentation. Awesome!

    Reply

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