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Career Change - Career Decision Making Technique by Lisa McGrimmon

In your quest for career change answers, a good decision making technique can help you to make smart choices, and a decisional balance is a simple, effective and free decision making tool. To use a decisional balance, you need nothing more than a pen, a piece of paper, and a little bit of time to think through your career options.

For those who like to make decisions analytically and systematically, and for intuitive types who want to try out a different way of thinking, a decisional balance, originally conceptualized by Janis and Mann, is a great tool that can be quite helpful in providing career decision guidance.

A decisional balance is like a super-charged pro and con list. It can help you to see all sides of a situation and make great career choices. When you work through a decisional balance, you think through the benefits and costs of making a specific choice, and then you think through the benefits and costs of not making a specific choice.

To create your own decisional balance, follow these simple steps:

1. Take out a blank sheet of paper and divide the page into four sections (you should have two rows and two columns).

2. Label the top left section Benefits (pros) of Pursuing the Opportunity - This is where you will list all of the positive reasons for pursuing a particular opportunity or making a specific choice.

3. Label the top right section Costs (cons) of Pursuing the Opportunity - This is where you will list all of the negative aspects on pursuing a particular opportunity.

4. Label the bottom left section Benefits (pros) of Not Pursuing the Opportunity - This is where you will list all of the positive outcomes of not choosing a particular path or career choice.

5. Label the bottom right section Costs (cons) on Not Pursuing the Opportunity - This is where you will list all of the positive things you could miss out on if you choose not to pursue that particular opportunity.

The decisional balance is very effective, not only in helping you to assess the consequences of choosing an option, but also in allowing you to assess the consequences of not choosing that option. That is what makes it a more thorough and better decision making technique than a simple pro and con list.

Some people are very intuitive about decision making. That is, once they have the information they need, they just feel, on a gut level, which choice is best. Others are more analytical and like to make lists and methodically weigh the pros and cons of each option before coming to a decision. There's no right or wrong way to make this kind of choice, there are just different ways of making decisions. The more effective decision making techniques and strategies you have at your disposal, the more prepared you will be to make smart career choices.

Whether you are deciding whether to accept a new job, assessing the next step in your current job, making a complete career change or planning your retirement options a decisional balance can help you to see all sides of an issue and make well reasoned career choices.


Lisa McGrimmon is a career counselor, author and entrepreneur who has helped over two thousand clients achieve their career goals.

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