There are two kinds of people in the world; people who make decisions too quickly and people who never seem to make them at all. Those who keep their options open and embrace the possibility of the unknown and those who drown confusion in absolutes, seeking comfort in the security of long-term commitments.
For most people, the decision journey begins with that first college application. Instead of choosing between chocolate and vanilla, you are forced to make choices that will irrevocably alter your future. Terrifying!
While the first group sculpts a linear path through tangible goals and expectations, the second sees life as an endless string of surprises. You know who you are. You are the undeclared, the spontaneous, the academically non-committal.
While neither group is right or wrong, they have a lot to learn from each other. Navigating a comprehensive trajectory of yes and no’s is in fact, exhausting. This school, that campus. This major, that program. Dad’s oppressive need to fix his mistakes through you.
According to an article in the New York Times Magazine, ‘decision fatigue’ is actually a very real problem that occurs when our brains are confronted with too many decisions to make at once. And of course, the harder the decision, the more fatiguing. This leads to frustration, anger, and of course, poor decisions. It explains why students turn to drugs and social recreation to alleviate pressure.
The way to rise above the decision challenge is to recognize that both groups are ruled by fear; the fear of excluding opportunities weighed against the fear of losing stability. Bravery is a challenging concept but when it comes to decisions, appreciating your relationship to the unknown is the key to setting your sites.
Most importantly, take it slow. Remember that nobody really has it all figured out, and making mistakes is the best way to learn. Instead of flooding your brain with lots of decisions, focus on one or two and listen to the honesty inside yourself.