Revisiting the Old Job Decision Chart

Several years ago, I had a manager, Jason, trying to decide which job role and career path he should take. I suggested he start with what we used to call the ole Ben Franklin exercise.

Making a “T” chart with + on the left and – on the right, then listing all the pluses and minuses of a decision and seeing in which direction to go.

As he returned a week later with 8 pluses and 5 minuses. I realized I probably would have done the same, and just how weak that list looked as something on which to base such an important decision.

If we are job searching or career pathing, we need to diagnose ourselves. The real deep dive, not 6 or 8 skills or preferences. He and I sat down again to build a list of nearly 60 Pluses and Minuses. That exercise created an amazing list of who he was and who he wasn’t. That has became my new exercise, particularly as I attack my life and personal plan, approaching it much more like a business plan.

We spend more time planning a vacation, than time spent planning our life. ~ Chris Jordan

The Plus/Minus exercise needs to become Who we Are/Who we Aren’t. We need to go beyond just our good skills, or things we like to do. Here are some ideas of the areas we explored for Jason, to uncover who we was and wasn’t. These can be really useful to help you get clarity on yourself:

  • My skills/talents that receive the most compliments/most criticism
  • The efforts I am most/least passionate about doing
  • The activities I accomplish with greater/lesser speed or with more accuracy/inaccuracy than my peers
  • What talents I think I could make/not make money?
  • I want to develop/not develop (You may be told you are not good at something and you may agree or you may say – “Oh no I will get better.” In college, Ken Blanchard was told he wasn’t a very good writer. That fueled a fire. He may also have been told he was not a very good basketball player and said to himself, fine.)
  • The books and authors I favor/or do not like
  • Things I collect/threw away
  • Quotes I remember
  • Movies I have seen more than once
  • Things that are pet peeves/best currencies in behavior I value in myself and others
  • Communication styles I value working with describing my best/worst boss or mentor
  • What I worry about most often/least often?
  • My best and worst story growing up
  • Rank of money/income in my past decisions
  • Rank of freedom/autonomy in my past decisions
  • What was a dream/nightmare?
  • What TV shows/games do I spend time/not spending time on?
  • Things I have laugh at/did not laugh at
  • What I like to teach others/learn from others?

What’s on your list? Try to make it rich and deep. As doctors treat disease, not symptoms, diagnosis is everything regarding treatment decisions. Job searches and career paths are important decisions, changing us to fit another role, and requiring extensive diagnosis, before we treat the issue.

Change is fine for shoes and uniforms, but not good if you are unsure Who you Are or Who You Want to Become.


p.s. Jason chose a path he hadn’t thought about, to learn things he needed and wanted to learn. Then for his next career move, he repeated the process above.

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