ARTICLES

You make decisions everyday about your work, school, life, and your future. It may seem overwhelming at times, having so many different responsibilities. Learn to make decisions thoughtfully by gathering the needed information, giving yourself time to think, and evaluating the situation long-term. Each decision may have costs and benefits. By improving your decision-making skills, you can feel more prepared for problems because you have already anticipated them. By finding support, you will likely feel more relaxed about your decisions.

1

Gather information about the situation. Understand the factors involved in the problem or situation. Talk with the involved parties or research what additional information you may need to make an informed decision. Avoid making a decision based on limited information.[1]

  • Critically think about what is the important information needed to make a decision. Prioritize the most important pieces of information first. For example, let’s say you’re planning for what to do after high school. Think about your interests, school performance, finances, and family which may all factor into your decision.
  • Take some time to gather the information, rather than basing your decision on too-little information.
  • Make a list of questions you want the information-gathering session to answer in order to keep the search focused.

2

Avoid making impulsive or emotionally-charged decisions. If you’re too emotionally invested in the issue, your judgment may be clouded. Avoid acting impulsively, and instead use careful, rational thinking. Focus on the facts of the situation rather than your ego, personality differences, or impulsive desires.[2]

  • Making decisions when anxious, stressed, or upset will likely lead to poorer outcomes.[3]
  • Learn to take a step back when you know you may be acting out of emotion. Avoid being pressured into making a decision. Learn to say to others, “I want to make sure that I am making an informed decision. I need to take a step back and think about this more clearly.”

3

Give yourself time to thoughtfully make a decision. Oftentimes, you may feel rushed to make decisions. Sometimes those are big decisions that require more thought and careful examination. Don’t feel obligated to make a decision before you’re ready.

  • For example, let’s say that your friends invite you for an overnight backpacking trip this weekend, but you had made plans to help your family with some important housework and still have school work to finish. Make sure to give yourself time to reflect on your other responsibilities before you say “yes.”
  • Depending on the situation, it is usually good to give yourself at least a few hours or more to make decisions that could affect your day or week. But if the decision affects your long-term plans, a few days or more will give you more time to process the situation.

4

Look at the situation in both the short-term and long-term. Oftentimes, you may be so focused on the short-term problems that you don’t look at the situation from a long-term perspective. Being short-sighted will likely have a negative impact in the long-run.

  • For example, let’s say you just got paid. You want to go out and have fun with your friends, but at the same time you want to be able to save for a future car. You think about how much fun it would be to party and go to a concert, but then you realize that you can’t afford to party each weekend and save at the same time.
  • Consider the possible risks of failing to think long-term. You may not be able to afford a car when you need one, or you may be faced with unexpected expenses and not have the money to pay for them.[4]