How To Create A Better Career With One Decision

Sign At The End Of A Road Requiring A Decision To Go Left or Right

The Most Miserable Trip Of My Life

Many years ago, I jumped at an opportunity to take a trip with my brother on his sailboat.  I thought it would be fun-ride the waves, drink some margaritas, etc.  Good times right? It turned out to be a horrible decision. 

My brother had just learned to navigate by the stars and was all excited to try it out.  Unfortunately, he hadn’t exactly mastered the skill.  Because of his miscalculations we way overshot the intended harbor.  To reach our destination we had “zig zag” against the wind (called tacking), and I found myself working my butt off continually shifting the sails to keep us moving.  This caused the trip to take twice as long as it should have.   

I compare this trip with one I recently took on my friend’s 45 foot power boat.  After we pulled out of the dock he set the destination in his GPS system and the boat traveled effortlessly to our destination, only having to make a few slight course corrections due to wind and currents.

Life Is Lot Like Those Trips

After my power boat trip, I realized that life is a lot like my two experiences.  At certain critical points in our life we make what I call “defining decisions”.  These are choices that have a major impact on the years that follow.  They include things like:

  • Deciding to enter into a relationship
  • Whether to start a business
  • Going after that big promotion
  • Starting to smoke
  • Trying drugs
  • Going to college
  • Setting goals

Defining Decisions Affect Your Course

Just like my sail boat trip, a poor decision can land us in the wrong place in life.  We then spend each day work our butts off managing the impact of that decision.

For example, someone who decides to leave their career to chance, spends their time dealing with its affect on their relationships, finances, personal satisfaction and a whole lot of other areas.  Like my journey on the sail boat, they ‘zig zag” from one issue or random job to another.

Compare that with someone who sets clear goals and career plans.  Their life is a lot like my power boat trip-a much smoother journey with easier course corrections. 

Good News, You’re Only One Decision Away  

Maybe you’re one of the many people in corporate America who have left their career and future to chance and as a result you’ve been “zig zagging” through the ocean of work and life. 

The good news is that you’re only one decision away from putting yourself on the path to a successful destination. 

The steps below will help you “correct course” and “navigate” to a better destination:

  1. Make A Decision: As previously mentioned, the first step is to actually decide to put yourself on a better career path – be significant in your organization, leave that nowhere company, become a senior executive, live a healthy lifestyle, etc.  Whatever it is, all you have to do is make a decision.  And remember, not making a decision is in fact a decision to do nothing
  1. Make A Plan: Probably the most important thing you can do after making a decision to change is to build a plan.  Why are plans so important?  Because you have years and years of experience being you.  Eventually the emotion and enthusiasm of your decision will fade and unless you have a strong plan to get from where you are to where you want to go, you’ll fall back into your old ways.  A plan gives your direction and keeps you from drifting off course on the ocean of life.  Don’t know how to make a plan, no problem…
  1. Fill Your Mind With Information: In the age of the internet, there are literally countless sources of information on setting goals and building a plan, and most are free.   
  1. Remember that even the best plan has corrections: I wish I could tell you that doing steps 1 – 3 above will result in a smooth easy path to your new life and career; however, that’s simply not the case.  Even the trip on my friend’s motor yacht required a couple of course corrections by the GPS.  Realize that at times you’ll find yourself “off course”.  The key is to not get discouraged and simply pick up where you left off and continue the journey.  Remember, mistakes are temporary, giving up is permanent.

Only One Decision Away

It’s easy to allow past decisions to frustrate us or hold us back.  However, the past is like a boat’s wake-it’s in the past and gone forever.  The future on the other hand, lies before us and can be whatever destination we choose.

You’re only one decision away.  Good luck.

Always Play Offense…..

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Angelo Lombardo is a Fortune 500 executive who is dedicated to using his experience to help other business people the mentality, motivation, tools and processes to “Go On The Offensive” to create the career and/or life they choose.

Photo by Pablo Garcia Saldaña on Unsplash

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