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A four-step process to making good decisions for your future

Road passes with directional signs pointing in all directions.

July 22, 2021

The decisions you make today will have life-long significance.

As a student, you are making decisions about your future career, about where to go to college, and the kind of life you want to lead.

Knowing that the choices you make today will impact you for the rest of your life can be overwhelming and paralyzing. The fear of making the wrong decision can keep some people from making any decision at all – which can sometimes be more devastating than making the wrong decision.

To overcome the fear of deciding, there's a four-step process that can help students or anyone feel more confident about their choices.

  1. Clearly define what decision you are making. To make a good decision, you must know exactly what you need to decide. Keep it simple and clear. For example, your decision could be: Decide where to attend college. As you define, the decision, think about why it is important to you. What would result if you made a good decision or a bad decision?
  2. Research the issue and gather information. If you are trying to decide on a choice of college major, what are the future career prospects for the various fields you are considering? Do the potential careers seem to fit your interests? Talk to other people who have faced this decision in the past and what result did it have for them? What are the pros and cons for each potential decision you could make?
  3. Make your decision. Once you've decided on something, you can start planning. Of course, sometimes big decisions can lead to other smaller decisions you need to make. For example, once you've chosen a college, where will you live or what meal plan will you choose? However, with the big decision made, those smaller decisions should be a lot easier to make.
  4. Evaluate your decision and use what you've learned. Sometimes, we've decided on something and realize later it was the wrong decision. It could be something as routine as not liking what we chose for dinner or something bigger like deciding we don't like the college we chose. Rather than refusing to admit that we made the wrong decision, it's best to change that decision when we can and use the experience to inform future decisions. Of course, the decision could the right one and evaluating how you were able to make such a good decision can also help you with other decisions.

As you embark on a life of your own, making decisions about your future can be empowering and exciting. But, even more, to make the best decisions for yourself is something you should consider to be of the greatest significance.