Student Success Centre

How do you make decisions?

What kind of a decision maker are you? Are you a careful planner who weighs out the pros and cons of your options – or are you a spontaneous decision-maker who decides quickly, depending on feelings and intuition?

Decisions of different magnitudes require more or less research and planning. Choosing your career path is one of life’s most important decisions. While not all of your interests can be satisfied by your career, you will spend a great deal of time at work, and most university students want interesting careers. Taking time to make careful career decisions gives you a feeling of control over this important part of your life.

Career Decisions

There are probably several occupations which would be good choices for you. Studies show that people are making 3 to 5 major career changes in their lifetime. It is even predicted that people will make at least 5 to 7 major career changes in the near future.

Because you have decided to read this section on our webpage, you are probably already thinking about planning your career. Ask yourself - at what point are you at right now? Are you excited, indifferent, scared or confused about your future? Depending on your interests and personality and your family’s expectations, you may feel some pressure to make a career decision. Or perhaps the time is coming to decide about your major/ minor – or to graduate. At these points, “not deciding” has consequences.

Which of the following describes how you are currently thinking or feeling about your career plans?

Don’t despair. If you are not sure, you are in the majority; most undergraduates change their mind about majors/minors twice before they graduate. Also, many graduate students are still uncertain about their career paths.

Take some time to reflect on these questions?

Career decisions need to begin with you - your interests, skills, personality, and values. There are many factors to consider - your marks, the number of years you want to be in school, culture, religious beliefs, financial situation, and family expectations etc. Talk to family and friends, and meet with professionals in fields of interest. If you need help with this, Career Counsellors are here to help you.

Steps in Career Decision-Making

The following are the generally accepted steps in Career Decision-Making. The steps combine a rational, logical method and a subjective, intuitive method. Career decisions, like most major decisions are best made by using both “head and heart”.

  1. Consider your skills, interests, values and personality through self-reflection. If you need help, a career assessment might be a good starting place.
  2. Research your career and discover your best options.
  3. Create a plan with realistic goals.
  4. Create a contingency plan (Plan B) in case your original plan doesn’t work out, or you change your mind.
  5. Commit to your plan. Are there parts of your plan you can begin now? If not, what’s stopping you?
  6. Evaluate your success. Are you happy with your current situation or do you need to make a change? Your decision does not have to be a permanent one.

“Begin with the end in mind."
Stephen R. Covey, in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”