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Why students fear decisions

One of the most important causes of indecision is the fear of choosing the wrong option. Questions like ‘What if I fail?’ or ‘What will people say?’ cast a long shadow of fear in one’s mind and prevent one from deciding.
Last Updated : 01 July 2024, 23:20 IST

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A college student approached for counselling a few days ago. He was sharp, smart, well-spoken, attentive, and well-read. All of this stood in contrast to the problem he had brought himself upon. In a fit of impulse, he had not filled his exam form and now stood the risk of losing a year. He could not decide whether to continue with his old course, which he needed to start from the first year or jump to something else altogether.

Deep discussions showed that he could not make a firm decision in his life. So, he went with the flow, sometimes listening to his strict father and also what he impulsively felt. This inability to decide led to many hits and misses. His career path was not what he liked, but he did not know anything better. 

This student may still have the chance to alter the course of his life with some counselling, but often, indecision leads to confusion and missteps that can take a toll on his life. Young adults are often expected to decide independently, especially in day-to-day matters.

Things like choosing an outfit, a brand of bike or phone, voting for someone, a menu for their birthday party, or the hobby they want to pursue must be decided by them. Even career choices, planning for studies and tuition, or choosing a college need some deciding. The parents and mentors can contribute, but the whole experience becomes enjoyable if the decision is the student’s own, if needed, with help from others.

A student must speak his mind about career choices. Otherwise, he will end up accepting something he will never enjoy. Students who can make and own their decisions grow up to be stable in relationships, less anxious, have a great work-life balance, are opinionated, and gain the confidence of others. 

Overthinking, bad experience can hamper decision-making

Decision-making is difficult because it involves making an informed choice whose consequences you must also be willing to own up to. When faced with multiple options and clueless about weighing them, it becomes tedious to make the right choice when all appear alluring. There are many reasons students cannot decide for themselves. It has little to do with age or experience and more with other issues.

One of the most important causes of indecision is the fear of choosing the wrong option. Questions like ‘What if I fail?’ or ‘What will people say?’ cast a long shadow of fear in one’s mind and prevent one from deciding.

Knowing too much or too little also affects decisions. In the former case, you fear because you know things inside out; in the latter, you are unaware of anything. 

Having dominant parents or elders at home makes kids fearful of deciding independently. Most of their decisions are made by them, leaving kids with no choice, even if they disapprove of the decision.

Overthinking what people will feel or say, how the decision will turn out, or comparing yourself with others who have made similar decisions also poses a block. Students often do not want to hurt their parents or teachers and decide on something to please them.

A bad experience prevents people from deciding independently because of the bitter memory of the consequences. It also dents students’ confidence. Making a decision when tired, angry, confused or influenced by something or someone else can lead to mistakes.

How to make sound decisions

It is possible to approach decisions systematically. Unlike problem-solving, the most important factor in a decision-making process is the objective, i.e., why do you need to choose among available options? 

Gather as much information as possible about the options available. List and weigh the pros and cons of each by marking them on a table.

Understand and mark the consequence of each option. Take the help of some expert or mentor as much as possible. This gives you a balanced outlook before you make the final decision.

Rule out options that seem improbable and those you feel you will not enjoy if accepted.

Once you arrive at a decision, own it and don’t second-guess whether it is correct. Your decision must score high on your chart and feel good when accepted.

Decisions depend on the options available. Time is of the essence. Your choices and circumstances can change daily, but decisions cannot wait. Weighing, seeking help, and accepting wholeheartedly are the keys to making the best decision.

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Published 01 July 2024, 23:20 IST

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