Embrace Ambivalence When Making Big Career Decisions

The pandemic, economic uncertainty, and recent layoffs have brought many people to career — and thus, identity — inflection points: life’s “what now?” or “fork-in-the-road” moments when people must decide where to go, what to do next, and who to become.

Career inflection points are moments of potential change and transition that often evoke feelings of ambivalence: the simultaneous experience of positive and negative emotions about something. Inflection points bring personal and professional “selves” to the fore, surfacing tensions between these selves and conflicting goals, which growing scholarship shows increase our ambivalence.

Although ambivalence may be somewhat uncomfortable, often provoking feelings of being torn, conflicted, and mixed, it can actually be good for decision making, particularly when problems are complex. Studies have shown that ambivalence can increase creativity, advice seeking, and job search activities, and may even…

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This article was written by Brianna Barker Caza and originally published on hbr.org