Akira is a Business Administration apprentice at WeWork, and a member of the WhiteHat editorial squad - a group of apprentices committed to writing about their working experiences to help other young people make informed decisions about next steps. Read on for her advice on how to approach decision-making with your best foot forwards.
Every day we make hundreds of decisions, from what to eat for breakfast and which tasks to do first at work right through to which TV drama to watch before bed. The hardest part about making decisions can be the change that comes after. Change can be scary as it often means venturing into the unknown, leaving comfort behind and having to embrace something completely new. Often we scare ourselves by jumping to conclusions about what may happen once we make a particular decision, but by adjusting our view of it from something to be fearful about to a natural part of life, we can learn to accept and even grow comfortable with change.
As young people going into adulthood, we may feel that the choices we make now regarding our education or career will set us on a course that will limit us to a specific job or industry with very little room for manoeuvre. These feelings can often be so overwhelming that it feels better to just ignore our responsibilities rather than to take action, but there are a few things that we can do to help us make decisions which we feel content and satisfied with.
- Determine what is important to you
Is your mental health the most important outcome? Is it how much money you will make in the short or long term? Or even something less weighty, such as being able to travel around the world? Being honest with yourself about what will best be able to meet the factors that are most crucial to you can help to streamline your choices and make the path to satisfaction clearer.
- Establish the decision/s you have to make and the pros and cons
We are all familiar with the dilemma of deciding what to do after we leave school, whether it’s heading off to university, starting an apprenticeship or even taking a gap year. It helps to make a list of each of the choices that are available to you, and the benefits and downsides to each one. This will help you to establish a logical, rather than emotional, response to the choices ahead.
- Give it a go!
List all the possible outcomes of the decisions that you find yourself presented with and be honest with yourself about how realistic each one is and how content you see yourself being. If you chose university, would you sincerely be able to stick to the various deadlines without any teachers to remind you to meet them, or would you most likely be distracted with student life and your new found freedom? If you went into the world of work, could you imagine yourself happy working a 9 - 5 job each day or would you prefer to continue your studies before starting something full time?
- Remember, nothing is final
So you’ve made what felt like the right decision, but it turns out it wasn’t to be. Did what sounded like your dream job turn out to be more along the lines of your worst nightmare? Or did you suddenly realise you weren’t as interested in your chosen university course as you thought you would be? No need to fear - life goes on. The best thing to do is to find someone who’s opinion and perspective you value, and talk things through with them. Evaluate what it was that made you feel that it was the right decision to make, and what exactly it was that revealed to you that it wasn’t. Work out a plan for your next steps and what it will mean for you if you choose that path.
- Analyse what you learnt
Although you may feel down about having made the ‘wrong’ decision, the fact remains that the decision has already been made. Instead of dwelling on how bad you may feel, try to think about what you’ve learnt from the situation. Have you come away feeling more resilient than before? Have you learnt something new about yourself, or maybe even other people? Focusing on this will remind you that we can learn from all of our experiences in life, whether they are good or bad.
After following these steps, you should hopefully feel able to make better informed decisions and to remember that you are never unable to change whichever path you feel that you are set on. Nothing is for certain, but as we grow and develop throughout life, new opportunities will present themselves (sometimes even in the most unlikely of places) - we just have to be willing to recognise them when they appear.