Monday, February 21, 2011

Advice on Teen Decision-making: What Did I Learn?

By: Ivana Pejakovic, B.Sc., MA

Being a teen is confusing enough. Not only are you uncertain of who you are, what you like, what your strengths are, where you should be heading in life, you also need to make decisions about very important parts of your life: Who should I be friends with? What classes interest me in school? What should I be when I grow up? Am I really good at anything important? etc.,

With so many options available to choose from, it can seem difficult to make the best decisions for yourself.

Decision making, however, isn’t necessarily about making the PERFECT choice, as it is about getting to know yourself, picking what you think is in your best interest, and learning from the process. Decision-making is also not about deliberately choosing wrong to spite your parents, to experiment, or to choose something you know can hurt you or others. It’s about choosing the best option based on your values and existing knowledge on the topic. There will be times when it seems like you’re completely off track... as if you couldn’t have picked worse if you tried. This isn’t the point!

The point is to learn important lessons about what you did, who you are, what you can do to avoid similar situations in the future, etc. All of our experiences, the bad and the good, are to be used to get us to the next stepping stone. If you use your lessons learned, you’ll step onto the next higher stepping stone (think of stairs). If you don’t learn from past situations, it’s the same as walking on the same stepping stone all over again or moving backwards.

Although decision-making can be hard, it can also be extremely empowering. It means you get to decide what you want as part of life. In the beginning, your parents may wish to see evidence that you can make good choices before they give you more freedom in the amount of choices you can make on your own. As you grow up and as you demonstrate you’re responsible, your parents will pass the decision-making baton onto you.

I recommend you practice making decisions every day. Bear in mind you don’t have to get it just right the first time around (although that would be nice). You should, however, learn something from the process each time. If you get good at making decisions at this age, you’ll make it easier for yourself when it comes to adult stuff, such as what type of person do I want to marry? How should I invest my money? Am I willing to move abroad? etc.

Have more questions about the decisions in your life? Contact Life Coach in Toronto, Ivana Pejakovic, and find out how you can strengthen your decision-making skills.

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