What’s really great about grad school (and college in general) is that TONS of amazing opportunities are literally at our fingertips. With many opportunities comes the challenge of decision making.
How do you possibly decide which opportunity is worth your efforts?
Can’t you just do everything?
Do I have to pick just one?
Which choice is going to be most beneficial to my future?
Unfortunately, these questions are all too real, and it’s often unclear what’s behind its figurative door. Sometimes I find making a decision to take a particular class or pursue a particular internship over another anxiety provoking and altogether overwhelming. Certain decisions can be very clearcut, whereas others…not so much.
There in lies the predicament in which I find myself in currently. At the moment, I’m trying to decide between two internship opportunities for next semester both of which have their attractive qualities, but it’s basically impossible (and definitely not smart) for me to pursue both. So, I must choose, but I find myself avoiding the entire decision making process. It literally makes me quiver because I just don’t know which one is the right one.
Then, I think about how I soon will be actively job searching, and I’ll have to start making big decisions that will impact the rest of my life. Do I take a job hundreds of miles away from my boyfriend and family? Do I apply for residence life jobs or focus my efforts mostly on orientation and first year programs? These are questions for which I have no answers just yet.
But, I can’t even mentally go there yet. When I do, I honestly want to vomit. I’m still focusing on making this internship decision for next semester. One thing at a time…
This is definitely not the only time I’ve had to make a tough decision. I think choosing which grad school to attend was the last time I stressed this much over a decision. When it came down to deciding, I followed my heart and my wallet. I wanted to stay close to my family, and my program tuition would be covered by my graduate assistantship.
The point is I know that I’m capable of making life decisions, but I find them really challenging. And, I’m sure some of you do, too…
To help us all more easily make decisions, I turned to the experts out there in the virtual world. Here are some tips & techniques:
List Your Options…ALL of them: We all sometimes have tunnel vision. Things seem so black and white, so we forget about all the gray area in between. Analyze the gray area to come up with an exhaustive list of all your options. This will set your foundation for the decision making process.
Weigh the Outcomes: This part comes down to the old pro and con list. For each option, brain dump any and all possibly outcomes (both the positive and negative) that could arise from taking each route.
Make a Choice: At a certain point (after weighing all the possibilities),you just have to choose. It’s okay to still have some doubts after making your choice. The most important thing is that you don’t let decision making paralyze you from action. Choosing the wrong choice is better than not choosing anything at all.
Commit: Once your decision is made, stick to it…through thick and thin, through good times and bad, etc. You get the point. It’s vital to put your all into whatever you choose.
Evaluate: Just because you’ve made a choice doesn’t mean you shouldn’t examine and evaluate it. It’s important to be critical of your decisions in order to help us make better decisions in the future. Also, just because you made one decision doesn’t mean that there aren’t appropriate situations in which you can change your decision if it’s not working.
So, here’s the bottom line. Decision making can be a hard and painful process sometimes particularly when it involves making a significant life choice about which path to take, which job to accept, whether or not to relocate, and who you may marry.
There’s no one cookie cutter way to make good decisions. At different points in our lives, various factors are going to play heavily into the choices we make. The process is dynamic and highly individualized.
The most important thing to do is MAKE DECISIONS. Failing to act or make life changes just because you are afraid of making a decision is detrimental. Sometimes, you just have to dive in…
If you do find yourself struggling to make a decision, you can always turn to the age old technique of coin flipping…
Or, you can ask the magic 8 ball…
Regardless of which method you choose, make decisions that work for you, commit to them wholeheartedly, and evaluate to help you make better decisions in the future.
Good luck on the decision-making-ridden road of life…