3 Dynamic Keys to Guide Your Next Career Move

3 Dynamic Keys to Guide Your Next Career Move

A growing number of women physicians are pursuing their next career move to a leadership role. Although traditional career strategies can work well for men seeking new opportunities, those strategies often do not fit the situations and needs facing professional women today. For example, women may be looking at how to get back on track with their career if it had been interrupted with family leave.

If you can’t use traditional approaches, it’s harder to know whether your career path is on track. How do you make good career decisions when there is no roadmap for success?

Create Your Own Career Roadmap

Your career success and satisfaction depend on unlocking your own decision-making ability. Traditional supports to obtain leadership roles, champions, mentors, and support networks, are not widely available to women. Even if available, the well-intentioned advice often is influenced by a male perspective, so the advice may not quite fit your circumstances or goals.

Therefore, you need to create your own roadmap to choosing your next career move, based on what is most important to you.

The 3 Keys to Guide Your Next Career Move

The following are key questions to use when deciding whether a career option is the “right” choice for you. Notice that each of the three key questions has two parts, with potentially contradictory qualities. The reason I organized the keys this way was to demonstrate the tension, the dynamic quality, between each element.

  1. What are your natural strengths, and what is your next growth edge?
  2. To what are you committed, and what enriches your life?
  3. To what are you willing to say “yes,“ and to what are you willing to say “no”?

Key One: Your Natural Strengths Versus Your Next Career Growth Edge

Women are particularly susceptible to the myth that you can’t be yourself and be an effective leader. In fact, you will be more productive and get better results when, each day, you have frequent opportunities to use your natural strengths.

However, as an example of potentially contradictory issues you face in Key One, you may want to make a career decision that allows you to use your strengths. But if you only use your strengths, which make the work easier, you will not grow. By over relying on what comes naturally, you will be bored, and you won’t be preparing for the next interesting opportunity or stretch role.

Perhaps you have the strength of communicating well and influencing those who report to you. Your growth edge might be to find an opportunity to influence upwards, such with your boss or administration.

Key 2: What You Are Committed to in Your Career Versus What Enriches Your Quality of Life.

The definition of committed is being dedicated or loyal to something: people, causes, projects, even ways of being. Each of us is uniquely qualified or interested in some population group, challenge, or opportunity. Be active in what you are committed to, and you will find yourself propelled forward by your passion.

Taken too far, however, commitment can lead to self-sacrifice. Don’t step into the trap of thinking that it is selfish to focus on yourself. Resilience and quality of life are the results of choices and behaviors that align with your values. You may value spending time with family, travel, healthy eating, or donating time to a cause you care about.

An example of a Key Two dilemma would be reconciling wanting more responsibility in a project you’re committed to and also wanting to have the time to coach sports for your children.

Key Three: What You Are Willing to Say “Yes” to Versus Saying “No” to.

When we say yes to something, we say no to something else. Saying yes to taking a promotion, for example, may mean saying no to staying in your hometown. It is essential that you make conscious choices about how to use your time to decide so that you do not cede those choices to other people.

When we say no to something, we are creating space to say yes to something else that is more important. You ultimately may be seeking an opportunity that aligns more fully with your longer term career goals and values.

Dr. Chang was making a Key Three decision considering an opportunity to move into a new role as Clinic Director. Saying yes to becoming the Director would give her more influence to solve some long-term challenges in her department. The downside was that she would miss having as much time working with Residents.

The Director role would use her strength of problem-solving. However, the higher role would involve new levels of organization and productivity that both scared and excited her. She said yes to being excited and no to being stopped by her fear to make this next career move.

One thing is certain – the next step on your career roadmap is just outside of your comfort zone. These three keys will help you explore beyond your comfort zone so that you can move forward on your path.

Questions about your career path? Feel free to ask Debora.

How to Move Past Career Decisions Indecision

How to Move Past Career Decisions Indecision

Do you have career decision analysis paralysis? Making important career decisions can be tough for physicians. The stakes are high and the consequences uncertain, making it easy to put off important choices. If you tell yourself you do your best work facing a deadline, it is possible this is really an excuse for procrastination.

To move past indecision, Dr. Chang and I worked through three stages of decision-making. I’ll tell you more about Dr. Chang, who needed to make a decision about how to allocate her work roles for the upcoming budget cycle.

Stage 1: Getting ready to make career decisions

Why do we procrastinate? Behavioral psychology research points to a phenomenon called “time inconsistency”. Our human brain tends to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards. This trips us up because our best-intention plans for the future can lose out to what’s more desirable today.

For Dr. Chang, the long term career satisfaction of working with Residents, conflicted with the current rewards of seeing patients. The decision once made, would be costly to change.

Stage 2: Make a decision

Making a decision to get what you truly want is particularly challenging for women. As caregivers, we women often put family and patient needs over our own. That makes career decisions even more challenging. In an effort to get it ‘right”, we lean into data and analysis to make decisions, but rational analysis is not enough. You need a decision you can put both your heart and your back into.

Dr. Chang imagined a future that did not include working with Residents. Getting in touch with the emotions of that scenario influenced her commitment to her choice, in spite of the possible consequences.

Stage 3: Make your decision right

Dr. Chang’s choice felt particularly important because it would have lasting consequences. Reality is, there are far too many variables to know in advance what career choice will be best. What you can control is how motivated you are to support the success of your choice. You already know to expect the unexpected in the outcome of any choice we make. Where we have the most control is our day -to – day choices and activities -after we make that big decision.

Release the grip indecision with by anticipating how your choice will feel the future. If your heart is in it, you can make it work.

P.S. Need more help moving past indecision? Schedule your consult today!

Secret to Good Career Decision Making

Secret to Good Career Decision Making

Satisfaction in your career is more than a matter of luck. The daily decisions you make about your career will either elevate you or cause your dreams to sink. How do you make good decisions when there is not a road map to career success? The secret to good career decision making relies on knowing what you are interested in.

When I ask physicians what they like to do, I often hear, “Well before medical school, I used to like to travel, teach, read, ..but now, I don’t know.” Not a surprising response considering the many years you have just done what was required next.

My conversation with Dr. Chang illustrates a common career decision making point you might encounter. Dr. Chang is a well-respected clinician and faculty at a medical school in California. In addition to seeing patients, she is a Program Director and actively involved with both medical students and residents. Due to budget pressures, she must give her Chairman a decision about on how to re-allocate her time. Less clinic time? More classroom time? Each option has consequences and she is not sure which way to go.

Research shows that people are much more satisfied with their jobs and perform better when they do something that fits their personal interests. If you know what interests you, be sure to build healthy doses of that into your career decisions. If you can’t clearly speak to what is interesting to you, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I really care about?
  2. How do I enjoy spending my time? (hint: think back to when you were a teenager.)

Thinking about what interests you is only a start. Trial and error is key to discovering your interests. Before the stakes are high, give yourself permission to try something new or re-visit an old interest. If someone asks what you are up to- tell him or her you are learning better career decision making strategies.

Questions about your career path? Ask Deborah…