This One Visualization Trick Will Help You Make Big Career Decisions


At some point in your career, you may face a crossroads at which you need to decide between two good job opportunities. It can be tough to decide which is the better choice, especially when both are career moves that on paper sound great and excite you.

Often professionals get caught up in focusing only on numbers like pay. “I think there is a lot of pressure, particularly with capitalism, to focus on, ‘What am I making? How much am I bringing in?’ Obviously, those are important. Those are things people have to consider,” said Adjoa Osei, a licensed clinical psychologist and diversity, equity and inclusion consultant. “But what are the other things that are important to you when you think about the work?”

Here is a visualization technique that can help you get unstuck and give you the clarity you need to move forward with a big career move.

Try this visualizing technique to surface buried emotions. Then determine what you value most.

Many of us are trained to ignore how we feel. Visualizing scenarios in which you take option A or option B can help you realize which offer excites you more.

Cynthia Pong, a career coach and author of “Don’t Stay in Your Lane: The Career Change Guide for Women of Color,” recommends setting aside at least 20 minutes to breathe and give yourself a break from worrying about your decision before you visualize accepting each offer.

“Then try to imagine how you would feel in three months, six months, one year from now, if you took option A. Pay attention to how you feel in your body. Do you notice any physical reactions you experienced? Then repeat for option B,” said Pong. “Doing this kind of visualization can bring added clarity and confidence in your decision moving forward.”

Osei recommends reflecting upon values that are guiding principles for how you want to live your life. Ask yourself questions such as, “Will this job help transition me to the kind of work I want to do?” or, “What kind of relationships do I want to have to my work?” to prompt reflection, she said.

Then try ranking your values in order of importance, and see what you are prioritizing the most.

“If you’re saying you really value flexibility, then it doesn’t make sense to take on that job that has a very rigid schedule, where you may be working after hours,” Osei said. “Does that really align with the more flexible lifestyle that you were looking for?”

Pair the visualization technique with talking to people you trust.

You don’t have to do this reflection on your own, either. Talking about your options with trusted colleagues, friends or mentors can provide a helpful outside perspective, both Pong and Osei said.

“You might hear when you’re explaining something that doesn’t match up to what you want,” Osei said. “Or when you’re talking about something, someone can point out to you, ‘You were really excited when you talked about this offer, but I notice you sounded OK with the other offer.’”

The goal is to get to a place at which you can wholeheartedly accept the decision you’ll make, and be at peace with the offer you’re choosing not to take.

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