Making Career Decisions

Everyone makes decisions every day. Some decisions are easy. For example, "should I go to work on time? Yes!" Some decisions are more complicated. For example, " Should I go to school to help me find a better job? If so, what kind of school and program?" It is easy to feel overwhelmed.

If you feel stuck on a decision, here’s a step-by-step approach you can use.

Decision-Making Steps Example
Step 1: Describe Your Problem or Situation.
Write down what decision needs to be made. Maybe it's something that's not working in your life. Include what you’d like to improve or change.
Describe the Problem:
I like working with children as a child care worker but I don’t make much money. How can I get a better job teaching or working with children?
Step 2: Gather Information.
Talk with people with knowledge about your problem or situation. Read about it to find possible options.
Gather Information:
  1. I talked with my child care worker about jobs related to ours.
  2. I talked with my daughter’s teacher who gave me information about what it takes to get hired as a teacher in an elementary school.
  3. I went to the library and read about different kinds of teaching jobs.
  4. I found out that to move from child care to elementary school teaching I’ll need to go to back to school for a bachelor's degree.
Step 3: Brainstorm Solutions.
Write down all possible options. Don’t worry if they seem hard to achieve or don’t make sense.
Brainstorm Solutions:
  1. Go to college in the evenings and work during the day.
  2. Take online classes.
  3. Quit my job and get a bachelors degree in education.
  4. Ask my supervisor what I need to do for a raise. Ask for more duties at my job and get more experience in child care. Put off changing careers for a while.
  5. Apply for financial aid and see how much I can get to go to college.

Step 4: Analyze the Solutions and Choose One.
Weigh the pros and cons of each choice. If you have many good options, you can rank them in order. Put the options you like best at the top of the list and the options you don't like at the bottom. Someone close to you can help you with this list.

Use Weigh Your Options (pdf).

Analyze Solutions:
Option: Go to college in the evenings and work during the day.
I can still work and will have income. I have always wanted to get a bachelor's degree. I can apply what I learn to my work in child care. My mom will babysit my daughter while I’m at school.
  • Cons:

I won’t be able to spend as much time with my daughter. I’ll have to quit my church volunteer work for two years. Money will be tighter for a while.

  • Rank: 1
Step 5: Implement Your Solution.
Once you decide which option you like, write down the activities you need to do for this option. Don’t forget to plan for deadlines and costs. Find support to help you.

Implement Your Solution:

  1. Apply for financial aid.
  2. Research schools that are close to me and offer evening classes.
  3. Discuss school with my work supervisor for scheduling and possible money for training.
  4. Apply to college and take admission tests.
  5. Budget for books and class fees.
  6. Schedule with my mom to watch my daughter when I'm in class.
  7. Make sure my car works well or get the bus schedule to get to school.


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