Article creator image

BY Sallie Krawcheck

3 Things I Ask Myself When Making Tough Decisions

Woman making tough decisions

Photo credit: Ellevate Network

TAGS:Career advice

I’ve had to make some tough decisions in my career. For example, should we institute a big lay-off in 2010, or double-down by hiring more trainees? (More trainees.) Should I fight my boss to return client funds, lost in poorly constructed products in the 2008 downturn? (I did, and lost my job over it.) After that, should I return to big business or start my own business? (I’ve started Ellevest, a digital investment platform targeted to women.)

I’m sometimes asked how I work through tough, high-stakes decisions. I do all of the analyses you might expect; I work though all the pluses and minuses. But here are three questions that I always ask myself, and always give me some clarity:

1) What is my stomach telling me? Over the years, I’ve found that my stomach tends to figure things out before my head does. Sometimes well before my head does.

Stomach hurting on Sunday night? You’re getting a message. Head aching in meetings about a strategic shift? Same. Once my stomach starts to hurt, I know something is off; it’s up to me then to figure out what’s wrong, and what action to take.

2) What would the person-I-want-to-be do? For you, maybe the person-you-want-to-be is your role model. A person you looked up to at school, perhaps one who acted with kindness or integrity. Maybe it’s your parent or grandparent, or a coach. Maybe it’s someone you want to make proud. Or maybe it’s the person you’re on your way to becoming, or a better version of yourself.

I always ask myself: What would he/she do?

3) What would the person-I-want-my-children-to-believe-I-am do? I’ve written before about “Why You Should Work as Though Your Kids are Watching.” If you have to explain this decision to them, what are they going to think? What is that dinner conversation going to be? If they were able to Google you – or Google this choice and its impact – what will their reaction be?

This article previously appeared on LinkedIn.


Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women. 
Join us by reviewing your employer!

You May Also Like

Related Community Discussions

  • I'm a recruiter for the largest staffing and recruiting firm in the country. I'm seeing a lot of people on this thread who are extremely stressed out about finding work, and I think you guys need to start seriously considering working with recruiters to find jobs. NOT ALL RECRUITERS ARE EQUAL! I work for Aerotek, where we value your goals, skills, and interests and we find you a "perfect fit": the job that actually utilizes your experience and abilities. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you are looking for work in the Portland, OR metro area. I can be reached via this thread, and, if you're seriously interested, please let me know and I will share my email.

  • I'm at a relatively senior level in my career, and I'm getting married. I'd like to change my name...but I'm concerned about how it could affect my "brand." First of all, people inside my company and out already know me by my maiden name...But also, will it affect my career prospects and make it seem like I am too focused on marriage?

  • Hi. I have been an Executive Assistant, or some other assistant/operations person for over 30 years. After losing my job of many years due to restructuring, I am looking for a permanent position. I feel as though assistant positions are on the way out, given anecdotal evidence by other assistants as well as executives I've spoken to. Please note that I am in pursuit of my bachelor's, but it is not yet completed. Apparently 30 years of experience doesn't mean anything if I don't have a degree. I've been told that it is recognized that I am intelligent and eager to learn pretty much anything (as well as easy to work with) so do not pigeon-hole myself into going after assistant roles, but I don't know what else I should look into or other keywords to use when searching for positions. Does anyone have any guidance on what kinds of jobs are out there?

  • I am seeking a part time Interior Design position but almost impossible to find unless it is full time. I am even willing to become a receptionist at a furniture store just to get my foot in the door.
    Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • Any advice regarding age bias? There is a lot of information about diversity and inclusion but not about age discrimination. I'm actually looking for new opportunity and I have the theory that the reason I have been rejected is age. PS I have doctorate degree and over 20 years of experience.

Find Out

What are women saying about your company?

Click Here

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share with Friends
  • Share Anonymously