We watch fictitious characters and sometime even real-life people who have made disastrous decisions and we wonder how they could do such as dumb thing! Or sometimes we make decisions that we regret and wonder what got into our brains?!
While we may have to make some quick decisions sometimes, decisions that will affect our future, our safety and those important relationships should not be done on impulse. Impulsive decision making that is done without thinking through can have nasty consequences that we don’t want. That said, please don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes and don’t fear making big decisions. If we methodically approach decision making with a clear head, we know that we have thought through things responsibly.
So do we make decisions with our head or with our hearts? Well the best approach is to use both!
Here are 5 steps to making wise decisions for your future.
(1) What do you really want?
If you had a fairy god-mother or a genie in a bottle who could grant you that perfect future. What would it look like?
- Imagine what your day will be like?
- What will you be doing in the day? What would each part of the day be like?
- Where will you be?
- How will you look and behave?
- What will your best friend and people around you, say about you?
- What are some of the things that bother you now and will not bother you then.
E.g, Writing long essays bother me now. In my future I will be working with my hands more and not typing on my laptop so much.
- What do you worry about now and will not be worried about then.
E.g, I worry about making presentations in front of the class now. In my future I won’t have to stand in front of an audience.
(2) What resources do you have?
Let’s get real, to really achieve the life that you want and the good feelings that come with it, you need to know what resources you have.
Strengths – know your strengths.
- What do you like doing?
- What are you good at?
- What have you achieved and are most proud of?
- What are some of the good things that your friends say about you?
- What character strengths do you have? curious, funny, kind, thoughtful, caring, fun, strong, brave, protective, friendly, honest, helpful, independent, sociable, fair, patient, confident, creative, generous, tolerant.
- What are some of the problems in our society
- What do people need and want. How do people prefer to live these days?
- What are some of the trends in technology?
- What is changing and how do people prefer to live their lives?
- What new opportunities are there now that was not there in the past?
- What does it take to be good at what is needed?
Now, look at the opportunities and ask yourself which of your strength can contribute to these areas.
Hey, are you getting a clearer picture of your future? Before you go ahead and make grand plans, you’d need to be realistic about how achievable it is. Here are two things to consider.
(3) Blind spots
Blind spots are the areas in our life that we cannot see and are not aware of. It’s usually an undesirable behavior, reaction or habit that is driven by our thoughts and believes about ourselves, other people or the world. Learn more about your blind spot here.
Every job that you do will require a certain level of competencies. Job competencies are the skills, knowledge and attitudes that are required to get the job done. You will not have all the competencies at this point of time. But you can ask yourself what are skills and knowledge that is required in each potential career path that may be of interest at this point. More importantly, do you have the attitude and character strengths that fit naturally into that arena. E.g, if you want to be a teacher but absolutely hate to deal with kids, then maybe you need to think again about that job.
Find out about the daily aspects of that job.
Often a job includes many other aspects beside doing the activities required. Different industries have their own cultures and way of doing things such as the way you are expected to behave, dress and present yourself. There are also different values and beliefs which drives that industry.
(5) Making wise decision
People often think that we have to choose between what our head says or what our heart wants. That is to either be completely practical and rational in our decision or to allow our feelings to point the way.
It doesn’t have to be either,
Practical – How much money, status and social recognition.
Emotional – How we feel, what we’ve always day-dreamt about
We think that the happiest decision are the once that includes both our head and our heart. Wise decision balances both practical and emotional aspects of what we want. The idea of the wise mind was first introduced by Marsha Lineham to help people who needed to regulate their emotions.
Here’s how to make wise decisions
- Set aside time. It’s never wise to rush into this exercise. To make wise decisions, you should not be pressured to have to make a decision within a certain time. Keep yourself calm and do some breathing exercises. Be mindful of your breathing and relax your body as you do so.
- Put aside all your preconceived ideas and prejudices. Write down everything you fear about or have unrealistic dreams about.
- Bring to mind your problem or area that needs a decision
- Think intuitively about your solution or your decision. Now, ask youself
- Were you mindful about the objective facts or the situations or problems
- Were you clouded by emotions?
- If you were too objective, you would have blocked out all your emotions.
Anyway, when all is said and done, go with your best choice and stay nimble. Life is never definite and situations change all the time. Most importantly, know that you have put in your best effort thinking through your decisions. Then just enjoy the ride.