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After 50+ trips around the sun, I’ve received a lot of advice—some wanted and some not. Hands down, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is the following from my dad:

“You don’t have a decision to make until you have options.”

I’ll show you how this advice can help you have a healthier relationship with work.

Pre-Judging Decisions

It’s easy to get in your own way by pre-judging the outcome of a decision. Most likely it’s fear of the unknown or what others will think that prevents you from considering possibilities and keeps you stuck. Life’s fast pace doesn’t help because you lack the time and space to think.

For instance, you might disqualify yourself as a strong candidate for a promotion or new job, thinking the work would be too hard. Or, you might believe your boss won’t agree to pilot a flexible work schedule so you don’t consider the possibilities and propose it.

Imagine going for the promotion or applying for a new job and telling yourself you don’t have a decision to make until the new position or promotion is offered. How would delaying decision making until you have options bring more possibility and wellbeing into your life?

Finding Options Becomes a Habit

With my dad’s guidance, I’ve leveraged this advice to choose a college, jobs, and other important life circumstances. It’s so ingrained in me that I recently responded to one of my kids, “So he’s generating options right now. Until he has them, he doesn’t have a decision to make.” My response wasn’t surprising as I’ve guided my kids with their grandfather’s advice for years.

Pausing the decision making immediately reduces stress and anxiety. You keep yourself in the game when you focus on options before you have a decision to make.

Surveying How Work Impacts Health

How can my dad’s advice help you have a healthier relationship with work? Simply put, you can use it to reduce fear and self-doubt. Delay the decision-making process so that you don’t prematurely disqualify the idea and have the mental energy and space to make data-driven choices.

Jeffrey Pfeffer writes in Dying for a Paycheck, that:

  • 61% of employees said that workplace stress had made them sick.
  • 50% had missed time at work because of stress.
  • 7% said they had been hospitalized for workplace stress.
  • Job stress costs U.S. employers more than $300 billion annually.

Pfeffer paints a scary picture of the impact of modern management practices on employees’ health.

You’re likely overwhelmed and overworked. Tired of being tired and feeling powerless, without hope things will get better anytime soon. And, you know your pace isn’t sustainable. You’re stretched too thin.

Creating a healthier relationship with work is critical to rebalancing your wellbeing.

Applying the Advice for a Healthier Relationship with Work

What would look different about your relationship with work if you applied this advice?

Let’s say you want to find a job closer to home so that you can spend more time with your kids. When this thought crosses your mind, you likely dismiss it for a whole host of reasons: too much effort, not the right skills, let your current coworkers down, etc. You get the idea.

What if you paused this loop of negative mental chatter to gather options to more accurately assess the possibility of a job closer to home? You would benefit from one or more of the following:

  1. 360° view: when you commit to looking for options you generate a more comprehensive picture. You consider the decision from different angles and likely think outside of the box.
  2. Collect more data to inform next steps: a 360° view provides richer data and generates the roadmap to follow.
  3. Opportunity to experiment before a final commitment: in the quest for additional data you can explore or experiment with some of the options.
  4. Connections to ideas and people that you are unlikely to have considered: as you gather options you network with others who have the knowledge, experience, and connections that inform what’s best for you.
  5. Increase the likelihood that the decision fits and will deliver results: the pursuit of options before making decisions yields choices that are better informed and more likely to succeed.

Note: you should spend just enough time and effort finding options to move you forward. You risk analysis paralysis or the desire for perfection if you get stuck finding and assessing options.

Wrapping It Up

Consider one way you can create a healthier relationship with your work. What choices are involved?

Next, what will it take to find options before making this decision? You can go through the process of looking at a 360° view, gathering data, and leveraging connections:

  • Option 1: on your own.
  • Option 2: with the support and accountability of a coach.

Before making the decision, consider the option of working with a coach. You can make faster and better progress with support and accountability than you can make on your own.


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I’m Karen Clark Salinas, and it’s my mission to help women live their full purpose (work + family) without sacrificing wellbeing. I want to be the coach I wish I’d had when I was a working mom. Someone to help me get unstuck and live my life more intentionally. Marriage, motherhood, chronic illness, divorce, remarriage, and caring for aging loved ones contribute significantly to my story. I know for sure that, with my support, you can pursue your professional dreams while raising a happy and healthy family.

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