Q. I have a good problem — I'm a finalist for two jobs. If I could put them together into one, it'd be perfect. How can I be sure I'm making the right decision?
A. You may have to live with some uncertainty, but listening to your inner voice will help.
The inner game
Let yourself celebrate! You've clearly been effective in your job search, and that's great! However, you still have a task ahead — deciding on the path you want to take. Notice that I didn't say "the right path." It's likely that either choice will be good, and they just lead to different futures. So set aside the idea that your choice could lead to a regrettable misstep.
Now clear some space so that your inner voice can be heard. Find a quiet place and focus on your breathing. Let go of exhilaration and anxiety, releasing them with each exhalation.
What speaks to you from each job? List the aspects that are exciting and interesting, maybe putting them on index cards so you can use them later. Also identify downsides so that you're taking a comprehensive look.
All of the positives and negatives tie into your deeper values and needs, and understanding those connections will help you come to a decision. For example, "love the people" may relate to a strong desire to be part of a close community. "Interesting business travel opportunities" may tie to a desire for adventure.
Use your imagination. Taking everything you know about each option, close your eyes and picture yourself working there. Imagine the environment, the interactions, the work itself. Notice physical and emotional reactions to each — engagement, resistance — all reactions will tell you something.
The outer game
You may find that you're missing some important information about each option, so create opportunities to fill any gaps. If the interview process is still going, use them to gather the information you need. If offers have already been made, request additional conversations to support the more subjective aspects you're thinking about.
Get some thinking partners. People who are close to you will be able to help reflect back your reactions — they'll be able to see if one of the jobs lights you up more than the other. They should also be able to help keep you down to earth so that you're not glorifying or demonizing either option.
Perhaps it's still not clear; if so, take your index cards with the pros and cons and prioritize them. Which aspects are core to you? Maybe exposure to new ideas is essential but opportunities for promotion is less so. And perhaps you have other ways to fulfill core values that do not need to be tied to the job.
These activities may make it sound like this decision is all about logic, when what you know in your heart is key. Let these steps help you clarify, but then go back to your inner awareness. If you think one "should be" the better choice but you feel sad about the one you're leaving behind, pay attention.
The last word
Gather the information you need, then let your choice be guided by self-awareness.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.