Decisions are Hard (How to be Deliberative)

By: Katie

Trying to choose a package of shredded cheese from a wall of choices stresses me out. When ordering food or drinks, I frequently just echo one of my friends’ orders. I over-analyze and consider each possible answer on Buzzfeed quizzes. It takes me a long time to make any decision, regardless of how simple or complex it is.

Basically, I’m deliberative. Sometimes to a fault, as in the times just listed. Other times, it’s definitely to my advantage.

Deliberative is one of 34 possible strengths you can get on the StrengthsQuest assessment, and it happens to be in my top 5. Those who have the Deliberative strength are careful, cautious, and anticipate the potential risks and obstacles associated with each decision. While they don’t always act quickly and aren’t the first ones to pipe in with their thoughts, those actions and thoughts are typically logical, reasonable, and beneficial to those affected.

Decisions are Hard

It’s a little tricky to be a deliberative person, and it’s easy to let this strength take over. Here are a few things I’ve learned about controlling the deliberative nature and getting the most out of it.

Don’t assign too much weight to the small things.

Deliberative people have the tendency to look at all problems similarly, seeing an array of solutions to be considered to reach the end goal of making a solid decision. This is a great strength to have when it comes to the bigger decisions, but for the smaller ones, this in-depth consideration isn’t necessary. It will take practice, but try to fight the urge to treat every decision as significant. For me, this means consciously reminding myself that it doesn’t actually matter if I choose a fox or an owl as my favorite animal or if I order pancakes or waffles. If you won’t remember that decision a year or even a week or month from now, it’s probably not that important.

Make lists. Make all the lists.

When making decisions, lists are the loyal, trustworthy, comforting best friends to keep by your side at all times. Need to figure out where you want to go to grad school? Make a list of where in the country you want to go, followed by the list of schools in those places, followed by the things you’re looking for in a program. Don’t know what you want to major in, but know what you’re kinda sorta interested in? Make a list of your interests and the classes you can take in those areas to help you rule out the ones that aren’t for you. Keep lists of what things you do and don’t like about the classes you take, the jobs you have, or the things you’re involved in to make sense of your experiences.  Making lists is one of the most reliable ways to soothe the deliberative soul.

Seek out all of the advice you can.

Find advisors you trust who can help you see all your options, narrow them down, and choose the one that is best for you. These people need to be patient with you and genuinely interested in you as a student and person. Whether it be an academic advisor, an instructor, a career counselor, or some other person, having someone who can help you deliberate will be invaluable in your decision-making processes. Finding people who can walk through your options with you or who have knowledge or experience in areas you know less about can provide you with the information you need to make a decision you’re comfortable with.

Find environments that allow for deliberative thinking.

Seek out places and people that allow you to think independently and make decisions on your own, but also provide you with opportunities to ask questions and learn from others. Avoid environments that require you to constantly make quick decisions or don’t allow for deeper thought. Choose to spend time with people who will be patient with you as you struggle to choose between pasta or soup, and be just as patient with yourself. Also, if tomato basil soup is an option, I don’t even know why you’re considering any other choice.

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Read Katie’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash|LuisLlerena

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