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How to Make Hard Career Choices

March 23, 2018

In an easy choice, both options that you're presented with could be good, but only one is clearly better. 


A hard choice is one where neither of your options is better overall.


Not all hard choices are big (you might have equally good options to choose from at the bar after work, when buying clothes, or choosing what to watch on TV tonight). But it's the big decisions which affect our lives. 


We all face hard choices in our careers. At some point you've probably had a choice to make between staying in a company or moving, or choosing between which one of two brand new opportunities on the table is best. 


The reason we agonise over these times is not because we're stupid. Hard career choices are hard because there is no best option. 


We try and measure both scientific factors (how much will I be paid? what team will I work in? where is the office based? alongside value factors (how will I feel working there? what do I think about the company? can I thrive in this job?)  


And these factors are not comparable.



When faced with this decision most of us take the safest option and value scientific factors artificially higher. Because we can prove their existence, we assume they carry more weight. 


In the excellent TED talk below, the philosopher Ruth Chang asks us to consider who we are as people. What hobbies do we have? What house do we live in? What career are we in? 


How did we get there?


She explains that we've worked our way through big choices all of our lives and the majority of these were not black and white. We've made hard choices because of who we are, and not what science told us to do.


Drifters stay safe and let other people shape them. To make the best career choices, think about what you are and not just about the facts in front of you. A hard career choice is an opportunity to become more of the person who you really are.


And because of this we should relish hard choices, and go with our hearts, not just our heads.




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