5 Tips for Making Big Career-Defining Decisions

So here you are. Faced with what seems like it could be a good opportunity. You have a decision to make and this could change everything you thought you knew or maybe it won’t. There really is no way to know. So you jump back and forth – what lies behind Door A could lead to X,Y,Z! What lies behind Door B could change everything you know or ruin you! and Oh Door C, well Door C is the elusive ‘what-if-I-hold-out-for-something-bigger-and-better’ door. Door C is the door that is totally empty at the moment but is filled with so much promise. Damn that door!

You are not the first to sit at this crossroad and stew. You are looking for answers, for a sign, for someone to sweep in and help make this big heavy decision for you. Well sorry to break it to you, but it’s just not going to happen. There is no way around this but through. You quite simply have to suck it up and make your move.

Now this is very hard. Every decision you make in your career can make or break you. Every small strategic play sends ripples in to the universe and affects your value.  It’s a big weight and I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. But I can tell you that for as long as I have lived there is no way to see the future and fully understand the scope of how your decision will impact the future from where you sit. That’s frustrating and stressful, but it’s best we just cut ties with that notion right now. It’s life. You must lead even when it’s particularly hard to and leaders make decisions with a good amount of risk involved, like a boss.

What’s worse than the stress you’re feeling at this very moment? Decision paralysis. You know… when you stew for so long all the doors magically just disappear and sure you avoided having to step up to the plate but you also completely screwed yourself, so really who wins? Not you. Below are some tips to avoid decision paralysis and crush whatever decision you may have in front of you.

#1 – Get Centred

In order to make a strong-minded decision you need to get in-touch with your core values. What do you stand for? Why did you start doing what you do? What is your ideal vision for the future? Truly have a moment with yourself about this and frame the decision in this light. How does this opportunity fit in to these things above? Does it enhance your core values or does it take you off track? Ask yourself these questions and be honest with your answers.

Any decisions you make in life should help get you closer to where you want to be and what makes you happy and fulfilled. Go for a run, do some yoga or whatever puts things in to perspective for you, and just take a moment to get centred and then approach the decision at hand. The last thing you want is to make a big decision based off of some short-term stress or ego-driven moment. Strong decisions are born from strong places.

#2 – Disconnect from Past Disappointments

It is easy when approached with a new opportunity to transfer any remaining stress from past disappointments or setbacks from a similar opportunity on to the new one. For example – perhaps last time you signed to a label they went bankrupt 1 year later and still owe you money. So when a new indie label approaches you about a record deal you will of course be apprehensive and worried they too will go bankrupt. Now see, there is a positive and negative way to use this energy.

Shit happens and not everyone is a crook if you had a bad experience. Be open and allow the new situation to build trust with you on a clean slate. That being said, do let your past experiences inform you. Perhaps in this new record deal you would have a certain claus added to the contract that you didn’t have the first time around to protect yourself. Time and time again I see past hurts casting new opportunities in a bad light and it’s not fair to the other party involved but more importantly it’s not fair to you. You may be too hurt to see what could be a very good thing right in front of you. So disconnect and set aside your past to be able to look at something pragmatically.

#3 – Ask the Right Questions

Don’t chicken out, this is a big decision and you need to ask the hard hitting questions that allow you to think about it from all angles! Ideally, ask these questions in-person so you can really get in to it. If you aren’t sure what the right questions are, ask a trusted advisor what they would ask if they were in your shoes or someone who you know has been there before. And I’m not just speaking about asking the right questions to the other party involved, ask the right questions to your lawyer, accountant, shareholders, or anyone that may be affected and useful to you in making your decision.

Now be warned: don’t misuse this question asking period as a way to procrastinate in making the decision altogether. Do use it strategically and carefully. For the best results set a deadline for yourself to make the decision. For example: I am going to meet with these 3 people and by Friday I will make my decision with all the information I have in front of me.

#4 – Be Positive

Making a decision is complicated you see. Not only do you want it to lead you somewhere great, if it doesn’t your ass is on the line. It’s easy to find your mind filled with visions of your bandmates or partners’ future potential disappointment in you when things don’t go the way you had hoped. You know the types, the people who will alway say, “I told ya so”. Gah, I hate these types. But I gotta tell ya, thems the brakes.

When you make a big decision you are sticking your neck out and taking a risk. The very real fact is that it could go super well or blow up in your face. And if it does there will be some fall out. You have to make a decision either way so there is no use obsessing over the latter outcomes. You will get paralyzed and stuck worrying about all the negativity that could come. But what’s even worse, you won’t even be able to assess the decision properly or see the potential good of it if your view is so drenched in dark doom. So when envisioning the potential outcomes think of the best possible scenarios. Be real about the possibility that it could go south but do not obsess over it.

#5 – Just Do Something

At a certain point you just have to make your decision. With all these things above in mind and some magic that none of us can control, lets hope it brings you everything your heart desires. So just go and make it already! And when you do, stand behind it through thick and thin. Give it the chance to soar and make waves. And if it doesn’t work out? Try again. Every successful moment had a slew of failures come before it. Be a boss and move things forward.

Best of luck and I hope this helped! Thank you for reading,

Sari

Sari Delmar is the Founder and CEO of Audio Blood, a North American marketing and communications agency. Through aggressive creative artist and brand campaigns, Audio Blood continues to be on the cutting edge of music marketing and promotion. Sari has spoken at international conferences (Big Sound, Canadian Music Week), sits on the Toronto Music Advisory Council and the Toronto Austin Music Alliance, and was profiled in the Globe and Mail Small business column (“from Music Fan to Music mogul”) in 2014. In 2015, Sari was awarded with an International Women Achievers’ Award in the Entertainment category.

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