For most adults decision-making can be difficult, especially when it’s an important one or one that’ll affect others in different aspects, be it business or family.
In my experience of coaching young people for so many years, I’ve seen this skill diminish to almost non-existence. Of course most of the time the decisions they’re making are more simplistic, but even then they shy away from that final choice, with the usual ‘I don’t know’, ‘Not sure’!
The internal pressure growing within them that only ever ends in disappointment because in their mind they’ve failed.
The core reasons for the resistance of making a decision for young people be it simple or more complex are:
1: Fear of getting it wrong. Not all decisions are easy and not all decisions will be right along the way, but we only ever find that out by taking action and making that choice in the first place. Teaching children to make informed choices, weighing up the contributing factors, and what their outcomes will be relating to the different choices is really helpful for them.
Quick Tip: Help them gain perspective on the different scenarios relating to the decision and then reassure them to help them make the right choice for the outcome they want.
Lesson – as long as all things have been carefully considered, the decision made is right for that situation and set of circumstances.
2: Too much choice. We live in a world of information overload where too much choice can lead to overwhelm and confusion of what to do. It reminds me of a great quote from Confucius…
“The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither.”
Distractions are everywhere, we have choice overload and our brain was not designed to focus on all those things at once. It causes what I call ‘Mind Jam’, the creative side of the brain closing down to possible solutions and outcomes.
Quick Tip: Help your child or teen make simple decisions by giving them only 2-3 choices. Start simple with dinner choices or at a restaurant, meat, fish or vegetarian, etc. So they become more comfortable with making simple decisions that are right for them.
Lesson – decisions come from being certain about the outcome or result. Certainty comes from a mind clear from stress and overwhelm.
3: Other people’s opinion. A growing issue among young people now is the amount they value other people’s opinion above their own, they waste so much energy on being concerned by what other’s think, they lose their own sense of identity. As we say at CHAMPS ‘Opinions are like armpits and some stink’, coaching young people to hear and believe their opinion matters is an amazing privilege. Any decision made by young people in certain circumstances are potentially made based on what’s popular or what someone else has influenced them about in some way.
Quick tip: Help your child or teen to listen to their own opinion about a certain situation, event or challenge and be certain in making that simple decision, such as going to the cinema with friends on a sunny day rather than to the park, etc.
Lesson – listening to others can be a great experience, as long as the final decision is based on what that individual feels, not just on what’s popular or the easiest option.
Making decisions can be challenging and for young people even more so from simple choices to major life ones like options at School, FE or Job, all decisions big and small seem difficult. There’s only one wrong decision that can be ever be made in life and that’s not to make one.
It’s not the decisions that we make that will ever be the problem it’s choosing not to make one in the first place and be less than they can be in all things. We must help all young people learn that not all decisions will be right, not everyone will like the decisions we make and there may be times where we have to make very tough choices between what others think and what we know is right.
A decision is never wrong when a young person follows their true values – everything else is a journey of learning and discovery for the benefit of authentic life-experience.