Career Decisions: ‘Undecided’ vs ‘indecisive’ – What’s the difference?

by | Jan 7, 2021 | Career Planning

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

Have you decided you need a career change? Has a Career Change been forced upon you by recent circumstances? Are you feeling undecided about what to do next and what career path you should follow? Or are you in a state of indecisiveness? For important life decisions such as committing to a potential job or learning opportunity or identifying what kind of work you might do in the future, the difference between undecidedness and indecisiveness is useful to consider.

‘I’m undecided, what should I do’?
Being undecided is a temporary state. If you are undecided, you’re in a normal and natural place when it comes to important life choices. Not that being  undecided is going to feel pleasant, when you may just want to get the decision settled as soon as possible, or when you have a looming decision deadline.

For a decision such as choosing between potential career paths, simultaneous job offers, or college/university courses, there are inevitably many factors to take into consideration, and if we push ourselves to choose just to relieve the temporary state of being undecided, we may neglect to investigate important factors. Thus ending up dissatisfied with the decision we’ve made. So, it’s useful to give yourself as much time as you can to consider the options as coolly as possible from a number of different perspectives by, for example:

  • Making a list of pros and cons for each option and giving each an ‘importance score’ (e.g. if short-term pay level is a less important factor for you than long-term potential to progress this will be reflected in the score you give)
  • Talking to a range of trusted friends, and family
  • Paying attention to what your gut or intuition is telling you
  • Doing online research about the organisations, job roles or courses
  • Think back to previous decisions you’ve made and reflect on what
    worked out and what didn’t and why

‘I’m indecisive! Aaaagh!!! What should I do?’
OK, so being indecisive is more problematic when it comes to making big decisions. Why? Because it’s less of a temporary state, and more of a developed character trait. When we have an established behaviour pattern of being indecisive, it can turn most decisions into ordeals, and can stop us from taking advantage of windows of opportunity that may not open again. We may end up not deciding at all, which is a decision in itself (a choice to avoid making a choice!). If you think you’re indecisive by habit, it’s definitely worth thinking about how you can eliminate, or at least reduce, this trait.

I like these tips from Psychology Today, including the benefits of stopping ‘overthinking’ on decisions; revisiting past decisions that worked out, and the intriguing idea of the ‘miracle question’.

Mindtools has some good resources on decision-making, and here is an interesting take on what makes up The Anatomy of a Great Decision

Do any of these ideas particularly resonate with you when you think about the decisions that are on the horizon for you?

You can get in touch if you’d like some personalised support with an important decision or two.

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