When you were little, you likely went through a lot of different phases of what you wanted to be when you grew up. For me, I wanted to be a veterinarian or an astronaut, which eventually turned into a meteorologist or a teacher. Needless to say, I went through plenty of career phases and am now doing something completely different.
Beginning when we are kids and throughout our careers, however, we are taught that we should have a plan figured out. We should know what we want to be so that we can get the proper education and training and can participate in meaningful and related experiences. And if we don’t know what we want to do, we are placed in the supposedly dreaded “undecided” category.
This line of thinking, however, discourages indecision and writes it off as something to be overcome. But is making a decision sooner better? Not necessarily. In fact, indecision itself can be a powerful career toward to push your professional development further. Here’s why.
Indecision should actually be reframed as open-mindedness. Rather than failing to make a decision, you are simply keeping your options open and your mind free to think of more possibilities. When we make a career path decision, we tend to think that we cannot stray from this path. However, career paths aren’t linear, so it’s important to keep an open mind. When we approach our careers with an open mind, we can more easily see career opportunities and positive changes.
With an open mind and no “set in stone” decisions, you are much more flexible as a professional. While having goals you want to reach and a plan to reach those goals is important, it is equally important to be flexible with your goals and plans. Life changes, sometimes quickly, so you can never predict exactly what you will be doing five years down the road. Keeping an open-mind is a helpful tool for both career and personal success because it keeps you flexible to these unseen changes. Your open-mindedness will enable you to bounce back from setbacks, find a new way forward, and reach success.
Even more, an open mind enables you to continually grow in your professional development. The reason that indecision is such a powerful professional development tool is that it means that you never stop learning. If you are open-minded, you will inevitably want to learn new skills or gain new qualifications. People who have a set path, however, may stop growing or learning new skills when they reach their end goal. To stay learning, you must stay flexible and willing to take new paths and learn new skills.
Next time you find yourself undecided about your career path, don’t feel as though it is something hindering your progress or success. Use it as a platform to stay open-minded and flexible and to learn new skills along the way.