Decision-Making and Your Career: Sleep On It!

Did you ever get this advice? Don’t make a decision today, go home and sleep on it.

I think we have all heard some version of that advice during our lifetime. It was good advice when you got it from your grandmother or your teacher or your first boss. And now Carnegie Mellon University researchers have proven that it is good advice.

The Experiment

In 2013, researchers performed an experiment that asked subjects to take in facts, figures, and assorted data about the subject of cars. They were asked to make a decision about cars based on this data. But before they could make the decision, they were distracted by a task that required memorizing a group of numbers.

Neuroimaging showed that during the task of taking in the data, the participants’ brains were active in two areas, the visual and prefrontal cortices. And during the task of memorizing the numbers, when the brain was focused on an entirely different task, the visual and prefrontal cortices continued to be active. The brain continued to work on the problem presented in the first part of the experiment, even though it was actively engaged in another task!

Take Your Time

We are all excited when we are offered a job. But career professionals have long given job seekers the advice to take time to make a decision. It is okay to tell hiring managers, human resource personnel, and recruiters that you need a couple of days to think about the offer.

Most professionals understand the need to take in all the information and think about it before making a decision. Company representatives pushing you to make an immediate decision is a red flag and there may be issues that you are unaware of and that were not presented during the interview process.

You have probably been thinking about this position ever since the interview. But now you have been given additional details. Perhaps they have offered a definitive salary rate or added a benefit that really appeals to you. Or, on the flip side, they have decided that you will need to travel more than the job description indicated.

The Conclusion

With this new information, you will need to take time to think about all you have learned. And that takes time for your brain to process. If you allow yourself 48 hours to think about the decision and the new information, your brain will be processing as you mow the lawn, watch a movie, or cook dinner. Give yourself time to make the right decision for you!

If you are interested in learning more about brain research, I recommend this article, Distraction: A Good Thing.

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