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September 3, 2021, by indybamra1

Navigating Uncertainty When Making Career Decisions

The Career Wellbeing blog series. We know that thinking about your career, applying for jobs, and moving into the workplace can be exciting, but we also know that sometimes it can present challenges and might be a source of stress or anxiety. That’s why, in this blog series, we will explore some of the things that might cause you concern and provide helpful insight and advice, alongside ideas and inspiration for your future career wellbeing.

By Hannah Woolley, Careers and Employability Consultant: Professional Services Partnerships

Do any of these questions sound familiar?

• What if I invest everything in pursuing a specific career and then I don’t enjoy it when I get into the workplace?
• What if I find a job that looks fantastic, but it means sacrificing other things?
• What if when I graduate there aren’t many opportunities available in the area of work that I’m interested in?

Sometimes uncertainty is rooted in a fear of making a bad choice. Sometimes there are lots to weigh up and things feel overwhelming. And sometimes wider circumstances are unpredictable and make you feel anxious.

Feeling uncertain about your future career can be tiring and demotivating and it can leave you feeling like you’re going around in circles and never making progress. So, read our suggestions for navigating uncertainty and building confidence in your decision making:

Identify potential triggers

Gently ask yourself if there is anything that might trigger feelings of doubt. Maybe you feel under pressure from family? Perhaps you are experiencing the imposter phenomenon? Maybe you’ve set yourself the impossible task of finding a ‘perfect’ job? Or perhaps you’re comparing yourself to others? Taking some time to consider what factors might be at play to help you to identify and then begin to address any underlying issues that are limiting or unhelpful.

Focus on making the best possible decision

Fear of making the wrong decision can sometimes make you hesitant about making one at all, but what if you remove the idea of good and bad decisions? If you’ve done your research, spent some time reflecting on what’s most important to you, and you’re committed to having a good go, your decision to pursue a particular line of work can’t really be wrong. Instead, it becomes the best decision you can make at the time when considering all the available facts and insight you’ve gathered. Adopting this mindset may help you to feel more confident about making decisions and moving to action, and in turn, break the inertia that uncertainty can sometimes cause.

Do some active problem solving

If having made the ‘best possible’ decision, you still have a few niggling what-ifs – confront them. Allow yourself to think about the worst-case scenario for a moment and then ask yourself: if this did happen, what would I do? This allows you to acknowledge any fears, think them through rationally, and then find potential solutions, which is likely to offer some reassurance.

Get out of your head

When exploring options and making career decisions, giving yourself time to think and reflect is essential. However, if you find yourself stuck in the same cognitive cul-de-sacs, an active investigation might help to allay any concerns and find answers to questions that keep cropping up in your mind. You could approach a UoN alum via LinkedIn to ask if they’d be willing to share an insider take on their industry, undertake some work experience to gain first-hand insight, or attend careers events to talk to employers. Armed with more knowledge, you’re likely to feel more confident deciding if an area of work would suit you.

Let go of what you can’t control

It’s helpful to be aware of what’s going on in the labour market and how this might impact graduate opportunities, but it’s also important to accept that you can’t control this. So, instead of allowing uncertainty about what might happen in the wider world to dominate your thinking, try to refocus your attention towards recognising your strengths and knowing that you can draw on them if unpredicted events occur. Invest your energy in developing these and you will build confidence in your ability to deal with whatever comes, even if that means pivoting your career plan.

Reach out for help

You might find it helpful to talk things through with someone you trust. Often, simply expressing things out loud can bring some clarity. You could also book an appointment to speak to a careers adviser. We can help you to explore options in more depth, weigh up the pros and cons of different scenarios, and work through any complex factors or difficult choices.

Posted in Applying For JobsCareer wellbeingCareers AdviceChoosing Your CareerGraduating in 2021