No matter our method, the results become our property.
We generally make better choices when we’re well informed and free of fear. Bridging those two helps us master our behavior gap.
Who’s in your ear?
There’s a lot of noise out there. Much of it raises expectations. We want a good job that pays well so we can buy stuff, grow wealth, advance, run with the “right” crowd, and feel successful.
That noise influences our wants and pushes us in the direction of the crowd. Sometimes it drowns out our vision of the career and life style we want. It can negate our dreams, convince us to replace them, and send us someplace that promises more than it delivers.
So choosing isn’t always easy, especially when we’re tempted to link the reasons for our choices to what experts, social media, and talking heads say is the way to go.
Carl Richards makes this point when he introduces the concept of the behavior gap in his book, The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money. Richards is a certified financial planner, but his book, although focused on issues around financial decision-making, is about how we make choices.
As I see it, for every gaff we make with our money, we fall into similar traps with career, relationship, and self-management decisions. So as you read his book, it’s no stretch to take the insights well beyond the financial.
Today every “expert” has a viewpoint and an outlet to express it. Advice about the best career strategy, the best way to manage your money, or how to live your best life is given and shared– and shared again and again–until it sounds like an absolute.
“…the sheer quantity of information makes it virtually impossible to sift through all the noise…and find the stuff that actually matters. Worse, we’re losing our ability to distinguish between the two. What matters? What’s just noise?
The struggle is fighting the fear of missing out (FOMO) and of being wrong. Listening to the noise doesn’t remedy either.
We are products of our choices. We can listen to all those voices and become paralyzed or reckless. Or we can listen to ourselves.
Richards cuts through the clutter with concepts about financial choice-making that zeros in on what we need to do:
“…make decisions that are in tune with reality, with your goals, and with your values.”
He reminds us that we can only control what we can control. That does not include what’s going on in China or on Wall Street or in the government. He reminds us that we all control two fundamental things: working hard to earn a living, saving as much as we can, and making wise decision about how we invest our money.
Our deepest instincts (if we listen to them) will tell us that money doesn’t mean anything: it’s simply a tool to reach our goals…By goals I mean stuff that matters to you.
From my perspective, achieving your goals means developing your skills, adding value to your job, building positive workplace relationships, and taking advantage of the right opportunities for growth when they present themselves.
A good start is to get in touch with what you value as part of a good life and assess every career choice against it. Listen to your inner voice when faced with a choice and don’t ignore what you hear. Every time I did, I ended up burning myself with a wrong-footed choice.
The behavior gap
Your behavior is within your control, so you need to own it throughout your life and particularly as you steer your career. Reason and emotion are often at odds with each other, challenging your choice-making.
Whether the choices you face are about finances or career options, there is awareness, relief, and even comfort to be found in Richards’ book.