How to Avoid Analysis Paralysis When Choosing a Career

To avoid analysis paralysis, you need to start experimenting and discover what career you want by participating in real-life activities. Researching, reading, and soul-searching are all good, but only by actively doing something related to the career that you think you want to have, will you get clarity. Gradually move forward, by taking little steps that are relatively low-investment and low-risk.

Have you been thinking about changing careers but have trouble making up your mind?

Perhaps you are someone who has many different interests. There are just so many things that you want to pursue, that in the end, you don’t pursue anything.

Or maybe, you already know what career you would ideally like to have but you’re confused about what to do?

“Should I get a second Masters degree or a PhD? Or participate in a course or training? Or perhaps just go to a workshop?”

There are many different paths that you can take to get to where you want to go.

Thinking about this very intensely can oftentimes lead to analysis paralysis. Too many options combine with fear of failure, and in the end, you feel frozen to a spot and can’t move.

In the initial phases of a career change, it is important to do a lot of exploration and experimentation.

Doing research is always useful and important. Browsing the web and reading up on your target career and people who have successfully changed their careers and find out how they’ve done.

But something that you must do in addition to doing online research is field research.

What you need to do is to step out of your comfort zone and try to explore the careers you are interested in.

Find people among your acquaintances or even family members who are already working in your target career. Talk to them and ask them questions about their career. Also about their process and how they got there. 

Sign up for a workshop or a seminar where you get to interact with people who are engaged in the field that you want to work in, in the future. If possible, volunteer or work part-time in that field.

Try everything you possibly can to find out from experience whether or not you genuinely want to shift to that career.

The only important thing to keep in mind when experimenting is, that the type of activities that you choose to do should be relatively low risk and low investment, at least in the beginning. 

This means, that when you don’t know much about your target career yet, and you’re at a stage where you’re just starting to explore, be careful not to invest too much money or spend too much time prematurely. 

Keep the time and money investment in proportion to the stage where you are at. 

Start slow, and pick up the pace and invest more time and money once you discover that this career is what you truly want.

This would mean that for example before you decide to enroll in a university program which will take a lot of time and cost a lot, try to join events, seminars, courses, workshops, that only cost a small fraction of a university degree. 

Many activities don’t cost anything at all. And it might also only take you one or two hours. 

The benefit of joining courses, seminars, talks, is you will meet a lot of new people who have similar interests to you.

This is where doors will open up and new opportunities will appear.

Maybe, in the beginning, you are confused about which step to take. You might even feel frustrated that you don’t have a clear goal and plan.

Ideally, we’d all like to have a fixed destination and a detailed and clear map of how to get there.

But that’s not how life works, in many cases.

Usually what happens is, that you are faced with many doors. And you just have to choose and open one door and get into the next room. There you will find new information and opportunities.

Again you’ll be presented with a choice. You have to choose a door, open it and go inside and see for yourself what’s behind it. 

If you do this, you’ll be surprised to find how many doors are located behind each door. 

For many people, the process of figuring out what you want and how to get there takes a long time.  

To be precise, the deciding factor is not time, but experiences.

Getting to your destination fast is not a function of time, but a function of the number of experiences you had and the decisions you made.

I’m not saying that the journey doesn’t matter and you need to get to your destination asap. What I mean is that time alone doesn’t get you anywhere. 

Let me share a short story of my mother’s career change experience. 

She used to be a pharmacist and she worked in a pharmacy for several years.

Then in her later years she started learning Taichi. She practiced it and discovered how much she loved it. 

Since then her goal was that she wanted to become a Taichi instructor and share the healthy exercise form with other people. 

Her new career came as a surprise to many people. Not only was it a huge change, but she also shifted to that career in her 60s. An age at which many people are preparing for retirement.

This is an example of how it’s never too late to change careers. 

For people who knew nothing about her process, this seemed very sudden. But if they looked behind the curtains, then they would see how much time it took her to get there.

She went through a long process before she arrived at a point where she knew that she wanted to teach Taichi, and it was an even longer process until she actually began teaching. But it all started with the first step of signing up for a Taichi course herself, many years ago.

So don’t get caught up in analysis paralysis. Start experimenting and discovering what kind of career you really want, and then make small steps toward it. 

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