How Do You Decide When There Are So Many Choices?

I am on a trip to visit colleges with my daughter who is a senior in high school. I was telling my sister that we were going to visit schools near her house so we could come see her and her family. She asked me “why does everyone visit so many colleges now? When you and I went to college, we just picked one and went to school.” It was a good question. Part of the difference is because we didn’t have the internet to check out schools and we relied on our school counselor or friends who already went off to school to give us suggestions. I honestly don’t even think I saw the school I chose to go to before I went down for orientation. I made my choice and I just went forward to get my degrees. I try to remember this perspective with my kids, but visiting schools has now become a part of the norm today.

Going through this exercise has made me wonder if we are all facing so many choices that it becomes too hard to make a decision. Kids are facing it with colleges, adults are facing it with what they should do with their career and older generations are facing tough decisions like where to retire and when should they do it. It becomes too overwhelming to do anything, so the decision gets put off into a later time. Choices are great things as long as having too many of them doesn’t hold you back from actually making a decision and moving forward. How can you eliminate some of the choices to make the right decision?

It comes down to identifying what is a priority for you before you have to really make the decision. What are those things that are a priority and are most important to you? Creating a list of the must haves and nice to haves before you get to the decision-making stage is key. If you have this as a guideline, it gives you a way to compare the facts to the choices to your list. Does the choice meet your must have criteria or not? I had both of my daughters go through this exercise before we got to the first school visit to help them know what is important in their decision.

I recognize that this sounds easy to do, but is more difficult to put into practice. Part of the reason you do this exercise before you get into the actual decision making time is that it helps to remove some of the emotions that you will feel in the moment. These emotions can sway you into making a decision that is impulsive and may not be the best one for the long term. Even if you re-evaluate at a later date, you will have learned something in the process. New information is something that always comes into play. You just need to go back to your list and see how it fits in with your original criteria.


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