How a student can learn to make decisions

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Very often young people are faced with serious life choices for which they are unprepared. For example, the choice of future profession or university. In such cases, some people hope for signs of fate, the help of parents, and outside support from people close to them. But it is about avoiding responsibility. In our article, we will look at all kinds of techniques and approaches to help you take responsibility for yourself and make choices on your own. 

How to learn to make decisions

We have to make decisions all the time: about what to make for breakfast, what route to take, where to live, what profession to get. If the choice affects our life or our future, we can postpone the decision forever out of fear of making a mistake. We talk about the principles and techniques which facilitate the process of making a decision and help choose a specific situation.

General principle

  • Take the choice lightly

We find it hard to make decisions if we are too serious about them, afraid of the possible responsibility or the consequences. The philosopher Ruth Chan, who teaches the principles of decision making, says that to get rid of this fear, we must realize that difficult choices are not necessarily associated with the most responsible moments in life. Choosing what to eat for breakfast is just as difficult as deciding what major to enroll in college.

For example, you have oatmeal or a chocolate donut. The first is healthier, the second tastes better; there’s no obvious solution, which means it’s a tough choice. Nevertheless, you deal with these kinds of decisions every day, which means you’re also capable of making more serious choices if you stop being afraid and worried about responsibility or consequences.

  • Focus on values

When making decisions, it’s not enough to focus on objective categories that can be weighed, evaluated, and measured. It is equally important to consider your values and desires. For example, you cannot choose to be an artist or a lawyer. You like painting, but everyone says that you cannot make money doing it, while a lawyer is a highly paid and prestigious profession. If only it mattered, the choice would be obvious, but it usually is not. Consider your inner feelings: what you like and what suits you best. If it is important for you to express yourself, create beautiful things and work alone, in quiet, working as a lawyer will bring you money, but it will not make you happy. Believe us, in this case it is better to listen to your heart than to attend university with indifference and use paper help for good grades.

  • Trust your intuition

Sometimes both alternatives seem the same. In that case, try to trust your intuition. Intuition is not a mystical gift, but our brain’s ability to make decisions that bypass consciousness, analyzing even those facts that escape it. If you can’t make a choice, listen to yourself. What sensations arise in your body when you think of this or that option: tension or relaxation? Imagine in detail how your life will change after you make a choice. What emotions does the picture evoke: pleasure, joy, or doubt, anxiety? Choose an option that doesn’t cause psychological or physical discomfort.

  • Don’t delegate your responsibility to others

The more experience you have in making decisions on your own, the easier it is. Even if your age allows you to pass the decision on to teachers or parents, don’t give in to this temptation. Consult with adults, collect different opinions, but make the final choice yourself, considering the pros and cons.

  • Trust your intuition

Sometimes both alternatives seem the same. In that case, try to trust your intuition. Intuition is not a mystical gift, but our brain’s ability to make decisions that bypass consciousness, analyzing even those facts that escape it. If you can’t make a choice, listen to yourself. What sensations arise in your body when you think of this or that option: tension or relaxation? Imagine in detail how your life will change after you make a choice. What emotions does the picture evoke: pleasure, joy, or doubt, anxiety? Choose an option that doesn’t cause psychological or physical discomfort.

  • Don’t delegate your responsibility to others

The more experience you have in making decisions on your own, the easier it is. Even if your age allows you to pass the decision on to teachers or parents, don’t give in to this temptation. Consult with adults, collect different opinions, but make the final choice yourself, considering the pros and cons.

Steps for making a decision

When making a choice, follow a certain algorithm. This will help you to orient yourself in the situation and not to miss anything.

  • Step 1: Study the matter

Do not decide in a hurry, if you do not know all the information. For example, before admission, it is useful to learn what areas of study there are in universities in your city, what examinations to take, what the passing rates are, and how much it costs to pay for training. Collecting as much information as possible, you can see the whole situation and assess the prospects.

  • Step 2: Think of more options

Don’t stop at one or two. Ironically, it’s easier to decide if you choose from several suitable alternatives. For example, you choose professions. If you equally like three or four professions, to make a choice is not so scary, because each option has its advantages. It is even easier with college admission – you can apply to all areas that you like, and postpone the decision until the results of admission, and then choose from the remaining options.

  • Step 3: Weigh the risks

Eliminate options that could have risky consequences. Do not apply only to one institution, especially a very prestigious one – the probability of being “overboard” is too high.

  • Step 4: Evaluate the pros and cons

To do this, use the Decision Matrix Analysis. This technique helps you evaluate the pros and cons of an issue.

Put the options you want to choose from into the rows of the table, and the evaluation factors into the columns. Then rate them on a scale from 0 (bad) to 5 (very good). Add up the scores, and you’ll see which options are more favorable in objective terms. To choose which ones you want, including your values. For example, the table shows the first two universities leading in points; you only have to decide what’s more attractive to you – convenient location or low passing grades.

Quick Decision Techniques

If the decision must be made urgently, to listen to yourself does not work, and to carry out a detailed analysis is no time, use simple techniques to facilitate the choice.

  • “7 breaths”

Samurai technique: they made a decision in seven breaths. Take seven deep breaths while thinking about the problem. If you can not decide what to do, then the timing of the decision is not right, or not enough information to evaluate all the factors.

  • “10/10/10” (10 minutes, 10 months, 10 years)

Evaluate what a particular option will matter to you in 10 minutes, 10 months, or 10 years. It is helpful to look at the issue from this distance to calm down and make the right decision.

  • “Most Unfortunate Option”

Choose the most unfortunate option from the list and cross it off. Do the same with the remaining alternatives. This will leave you with the decision that is the best right now.

Don’t be afraid to practice making decisions, and you’ll find that it’s not that hard. Whichever option you choose, it’s up to you to decide if it’s the right one or not. And even if it isn’t, don’t worry – mistakes can always be fixed.

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