shradhaI was sitting in class, extremely sleep deprived and finishing my first cup of coffee; I had pulled another all-nighter trying to finish an important assignment. The professor was about to discuss something extremely important but I couldn’t seem to pay attention. I really needed another cup of coffee. I thought, if I rushed to the Starbucks across the street I might miss the first 15-17 minutes of the discussion but would be able to focus more. Or I could suck it up and try and concentrate on the discussion through all of my exhaustion. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

As I kept contemplating, I realized I was using the little energy I had to just make a decision. So I ran to Starbucks, got my coffee and sat through the rest of the lecture a little less sleep deprived (and amazed at the power of caffeine). Anyway, the point of this analogy is that we are always faced with certain situations where we need to make a quick decision. It could be another cup of coffee, picking a class for next semester, deciding your major, choosing colleges or making career and other important life choices.

Our entire life is a decion-making process, but most often we depend highly on a lot of external influences to help us make these decisions. Although second opinions are always beneficial, they hinder our ability to use our instincts that we tend to ignore despite their constant shouts from our gut. Why do we do this? Probably because we don’t trust ourselves in making such important life decisions or we are fearful of taking responsibilities for the decisions we make. Sometimes we need to follow our gut, whether the outcome is good or bad. We have to develop the knack of making our own decisions and learning from our mistakes.

Every decision that I have made (good or bad) from my time in high school to my time in college has made me more independent and obstinate. They have enabled me to think faster, especially if the situation is tense and stressful. Over the years, I developed a code to make such decisions. No matter the degree of importance of the situation, I make sure that I process my decision through this code and then pick the best alternative.

1. Make a List of Pros and Cons. Not a page long, just the first three (or five). They are the ones that matter the most; the rest are not priorities but just extensions of the important ones.

2. Answer your ‘What if…’ Question Before Making the Decision. Developing a hypothetical situation and predicting the possible outcomes will keep you prepared and ready for any situation that might occur as a result of your decision.

3. Take your Time, But Not Too Much. If you spend too much of your time making one decision, not only will it slow you down, but it will also enable you to over-think and over-analyze your choice. This most often results only in confusion.

4. Don’t Look Back. Once you finalize your decision, don’t doubt yourself. Muster up all your courage, take a deep breath, and just go with it. It will also make you a more confident and responsible individual.

5. Don’t Fret over Regret. Every choice you make should be your choice. Use others’ opinions, but don’t let it completely influence you. When the decision is yours, the responsibility is yours, giving you less of an opportunity to regret and more of an opportunity to learn. If your decision starts to go south, just pick yourself up and move on.

Close up of two white coffee mug with diy decoration.There are no wrong decisions. I compromised a little of my time to get my coffee so that I could stay focused. I knew there was a sacrifice, but I was also aware of the ultimate outcome. As you start to make your own decision, you learn to take responsibilities for your actions, you grow as a person and you become more aware of the direction that your life is about to take. So don’t just sit and wonder what could or would or might happen. Get up, run and go get that second cup of coffee.

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