Hold up! Did you hesitate for a second (or five) before opening this link? Do the smallest of conundrums sometimes look like big problems? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to teenage decision making & problem solving for teens 101!
Your teenage years can be quite a jar full of pickles. There are just so many things that you have to juggle, all at once — studies, friendships, relationships, getting that perfect Instagram photo, et al. So much to do, so little time. And it doesn’t help when everyone is always reminding you that the decisions you make today will define the rest of your life.
In times like these, all big-small choices look like daunting decisions. And that can be scary, sometimes. So here’s a handy guide to help polish your decision-making skills!
How to make a decision
It’s always good to have a handy framework of decision-making life skills. Here’s a comprehensive 7-step guide to help you with it:
Step 1: Ask yourself what the question is
Sometimes we get so tangled up in a problem that we forget what the question was in the first place. So the first part of making an important decision is to take a step back and ask yourself: what’s the question? Think about the situation, what’s being asked of you and even what tools you need to make a decision. Problem-solving for teens begins with understanding the problem.
Step 2: Analyse the impact of this decision
Whether you need to decide what to order for dinner or which subjects to specialize in at school, all decisions have consequences. Of course, some have more lasting results than others, which may not be evident to us at the moment. Evaluate the consequences that this particular decision will have in your life. Does this decision only impact day-to-day activities, or does it affect your life’s big picture too? Also, think about how this decision impacts the lives of those around you, especially your family and friends.
Step 3: List down all possible choices
What choices do you have on the plate? Is this decision a binary choice question or one with far too many possible answers? Is the question even objective, or like literature, are there no right or wrong answers? Take stock of all the possible choices that you have before choosing one of them. Feel free to be as creative as you want in this step. Just remember that there are no bad options/answers here, the more, the merrier. Fun fact: 90% of teenage decision-making is just about being open to various options.
Step 4: Analyse the short & long term effect of each choice
Before you make any decision, it’s essential to understand your choices. Research as much as you can about what each of those choices entails. Make Google your best friend (if it isn’t already), visit your nearest library if you like and basically try it all. You should also talk to people who have taken a similar path in life or made similar choices to get their perspective too. And hey, don’t forget to take LOTS of notes!
Step 5: Make a pros & cons list
This may be the oldest trick in the book, but there’s a reason this trick has survived the test of time! Navigating the risk and uncertainty that every choice entails is important, but so is recognizing the rewards that come with them. More often than not, we tend to focus on only one of them. Thus, making a balanced list of the benefits and drawbacks of each choice that you have becomes imperative!
Step 6: Crunch the data
Here comes the most crucial step of all: making the actual decision. So far, you’ve rationalized the problem, analyzed your choices and contextualized it with data or lists. All that’s left to do is evaluate the pros & cons list — one last time — to settle on the best possible option. More often than not, your gut knows what the right choice is so just listen to it. Talk to your parents, teachers, friends, well-wishers and take their advice too but remember, the final choice is yours to make.
Step 7: Take a deeeeep breath and follow-through
What’s important to remember is that no decision is too big to be irreversible. So pause, take a couple of deep breaths, center yourself and most importantly, believe in the decision that you have made. You’ve got this!
We hope this step-by-step process answers your questions about how to make a decision. Teenage decision-making can be a tricky business. Just follow a framework and your decision-making life skills will get razor-sharp over time! And it really helps to connect with like-minded peers and mentors who can help act as a sounding board for all your big-small decisions. Ready to make it happen?