10 Decisions That Can Make or Break Your Career

by Per Wickstrom on March 18, 2014

Forbes has now listed the world’s billionaires as of this moment in 2014. Their figures: 1,645 billionaires with a total net worth of $6.4 trillion. Many names on the list will be familiar to you – the titans of tech and the captains of industry. About 66% are self-made, while the other 34% inherited their wealth or built up an already-existing fortune. 268 newcomers were added, while 100 fell off due to their fortunes decreasing or devaluation of currency. That is 1,645 amongst a global population of over 7,150,000,000 or about .00002% of the population. So if you intend to join that club, just keep in mind that it is fairly exclusive and represents a small sliver of the population, but if you feel you can make it, by all means go for it.

Decisions That Can Make or Break Your Career

10 Decisions That Can Make or Break Your Career

For anyone anywhere near that income bracket, the tiniest decision can mean millions and even billions of dollars in gain or loss. Now take people like you and me – it is similar but on a much smaller scale. We all have pivotal decision points in our lives. I certainly went left a few times when I should have gone right. These decisions would appear to make or break a person, but the truth is that it is never too late to turn your career and your life around. The road back may be longer and it is not necessarily easy, but you can always learn from your mistakes and even capitalize on them.

10 Decisions That Can Change the Course of Your Career and Life

Here are 10 decisions that can change the course of your career and your life:

1. Quitting.

The “Q” word! It has negative and positive connotations depending on your circumstances and motivations. If you have problems on your job, the first thing you should do is work to sort them out. However, if you feel you are in a dead-end situation, giving your two weeks’ notice may be a viable option. No matter the circumstance, ending a job can be at once terrifying and adventurous. I would recommend that if you are going to quit, have something lined up ahead of time. I would also recommend departing on the best terms possible. You never know when former connections can come in handy. Ending one job cycle and starting another can mean new experiences, new skills, new friends, new problems, and new solutions.

2. Starting your own business.

Perhaps you always wanted to do it. Maybe you find yourself in a situation where it seems only fitting that you cross that line. If you’ve got the entrepreneurial bug, then it may indeed be time. If I could only say one thing about starting and operating your own business, it would be that you must ALWAYS BE LEARNING. A salesman is told “always be closing” (“ABC”) but to an entrepreneur I’d say “always be learning.” Be a sponge for information. Ask questions. Ask them even if others appear annoyed that you are asking them. There is a lot to consider when starting a business and I have written a number of blogs to help people out. The decision to venture out on your own can mean a whole new realm of challenges and victories.

3. Following your dream.

The decision to industriously follow your dream can mark a turning point. Not everyone does this from the get-go. Life gets in the way. It took a series of disasters before I realized what my dream was. Doing what you are passionate about is a rewarding experience whether you get paid for it or not. When you love what you are doing, are really good at it, and are also well-compensated for it, you are “living the dream” as they say. It is an injustice, but some highly creative professions are difficult to make a living at. Two friends of mine, accomplished musicians, have been struggling. So they decided, after long deliberation, to do a Kickstarter campaign to fund their next album. Their fans seemed to think it was a good idea because they’ve almost reached their target of 14K. The point: With some ingenuity, you can chase your dream and even make it a reality.

4. Moving

It may seem like a no-brainer, but deciding to move to a different location or city can change the course of your life in profound ways. First, there are the practicalities: Where your family members are located, cost of living, rent, real estate, job opportunities, schools, the city vs. the country, etc. Then there are the more cerebral or spiritual factors: The mindset of the area, the culture, the presence or absence of the arts – all these things and more make deciding where to live a highly individual decision that will alter the landscape. Your career may take you to a new city and vice-versa. A new city, state, or country may open doors you didn’t know existed.

5. Taking initiative.

Taking initiative means that you don’t require orders or directions on everything and you can make independent decisions. If you see something that should be done or changed, you take action. In some work environments, the powers that be DON’T WANT you taking initiative. Others look on it as a positive leadership quality and might start eying you for promotion. One good way to test the waters is to propose something and see what happens. You may be balked, but at least you tried. Many executives and bosses appreciate your ideas as long as you let them know ahead of time. Others however don’t particularly value the opinion of the “low man on the totem pole.” Only you can ascertain which type of organization you work in and what action to take.

6. Diversification.

The term “diversification” is usually used in the context of investing. Here I am using it to simply mean opening up multiple doors of revenue. You don’t want all your eggs in one basket as they say. Particularly if you run your own business, I’d recommend starting two more businesses or projects. If one is in trouble, you should have a second or third (or more) to fall back on while you fix the first. Many people are specialists and VERY good at what they do. I am not advocating the “jack of all trades, master of none” approach. But you could be a jack of several trades and competent or masterful in each. Some friends of mine write blogs, own a cleaning company, sell balloon animals AND do insurance billing. WHAT? But they are good at ALL of them and they make money on each. They decided to diversify. Deciding to widen your scope can mean more income and an expanded sphere of awareness and influence.

7. Deciding to commit.

The times in your life where you decided to dedicate yourself to something, whether it was a job, an education, a partnership, a marriage, or any other project are indeed pivotal points and should not be underestimated. When you decide that you are “all in” it is an important moment. Just ask an Olympic athlete. They train for years for an opportunity that may only last 60 seconds. When you commit, you take everything with you – your drive, your passion, your fears, your idiosyncrasies, everything about yourself that you love and despise. You’re all in so it’s all you. Along with that are your tenacity and the unwillingness to give up. Deciding to commit for better or for worse is often what is needed to really accomplish something.

8. Deciding to compromise.

“Compromise” is a bit of a dirty word as it implies a relinquishing of one’s values. It really has a positive and negative meaning. A man can be so lunkheaded and obtuse that he fails to see the light and “has to do it his way” no matter what. It’s like someone clinging to the raft that will take him over Niagara Falls instead of reaching for the rope being extended to him. This person should compromise and grab the rope. The other side of compromise is of course going against one’s own sense of integrity. The trick is to know the difference. I am sure there are points in your life where you compromised and you regretted it, as well as moments where you should have listened to someone else. We all have these. So listen to the voice of reason while keeping your own counsel.

9. The decision to learn.

The idea that you know everything is false. You don’t. Some things on the other hand you may know better than anyone else. In life and business, you are constantly learning. Elon Musk, who is on the billionaire list, owns Tesla Motors (electric cars), SolarCity (solar power), and SpaceX (spacecraft). He learned on his own about these disparate and highly technical fields. We aren’t all going to be Elon Musk, that is for sure, but we can all be seekers of knowledge. We can all learn. Having a cursory familiarity with something is a lot different than really understanding it. The college degree with the letters attached to it doesn’t automatically mean you understand something. There are ways to approach study and learning that anyone can apply whether in a classroom or not. The decision to learn could mean the difference between disappointment and success.

10. Thinking BIG.

Any big decision starts with widening your ideas of what can be done. Doing BIG starts with thinking BIG. If you think there is only one way to do something yet that “way” never really pans out, could it be that there may be a better way? If you only operate within a certain “box” perhaps it is necessary to think and look and act outside of that box. The decision to think big is the decision to think more colorfully and creatively. If your canvas was only a notepad in your breast pocket, try one covering the whole wall and the full spectrum of color. If you thought in two dimensions, try thinking in three or more ! Consider the whole neighborhood your playing field – the whole city, country, planet and beyond. My point is to not limit yourself. Your next decision could be massive and far-reaching if you so desire. Over to you!

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