Making decisions is part of growing up, and the earlier you start learning the process, the better you will be at decision making. As a teen, you are often plagued with such problems as: Should I start dating? Should I take alcohol, try out cigarettes or vapes? Should I attend Prince’s party? Lie to my parents about my itinerary? What about sex, should I start now? Should I drop Further Math, and take up Geography? History for Photography? Science, Commercial or Arts? And possible questions are endless.

To help you make decisions that will be best for you in the long run, why not follow these steps?

1.  Get Clear on the Problem

What is the problem that you are faced with?  To get it clearly, it will help if you wrote it down. Writing down the problem helps you gain clarity when trying to outline the solutions and outcomes to the problem.

2.  Get the Facts

Be sure to gather all of the facts about the situation. Ask yourself some tough questions, and make sure you cover all grounds when it comes to the problem at hand.  Find out the details about the situation such as the date, time, location, other people who will be there, who the problem will affect, who the problem won’t affect, etc.  Gathering this information will help you make an informed decision. 

3.  Ask for Advice

Now that you have written the problem down, and gathered all of the important information about the situation, it’s time to ask for advice.  Talk to people whom you trust and ask them what they would do if they were in your shoes.   Have they ever experienced this situation before, and how did they handle it?  Your parents could be a great source for advice; but if you don’t want to talk to your parents about the situation, then try other trustworthy adults for their opinions.

4.  Brainstorm on Possible Options

Now, it’s time to get to work.  What are all of the possible options to this particular problem?  For example, let’s assume that you are trying to decide if you will attend  Bolu’s party, and where there will be no adult supervision.   Your possible options to the problem would be to: 

  1. Attend the party with other friends
  2. Not attend the party
  3. Attend the party, but leave when it begins to get uncomfortable
  4. Attend the party, and have a back-up plan for when things do not go as planned

Once you have all of the possible options written down, you can move on to the next step. 

5.  Brainstorm on Possible Outcomes

Look at the list of possible options to your problem.  Now, weigh the good things that can happen from going along with the problem versus the bad things that can happen from going along with the problem. Using the example above:

Good: You get to be in the “popular, happening crowd”; you get to have fun with friends; you get that grown-up feeling you’ve always wanted

Bad: Because of a lack of adult supervision, bad things could happen – think date rape and spiked drinks; if you lied to your parents and they get to know, you could be in serious mess; alcohol intoxication; you could become party to a crime punishable by law

Make a “Good Things That Can Happen vs. Bad Things That Can Happen” chart on a piece of paper and weigh your options regarding you problem.

6. Decide What is Best for You

After weighing all of your options and the possible outcomes from those options, decide on what is the smartest decision for you to make right now. If you make this decision, how will it affect you, and how will it affect other people? For example, if your problem is deciding if you want to drink alcohol or not, it’s important that you not only think about how this decision will affect you, but how will this decision affect those around you?

7. Measure the Results. Are There Need for Adjustments?

After you have made your smart decision, give it a shot. Try it out, and see what happens. Maybe you made the right choice, but maybe you didn’t. If you feel like you made the wrong decision, you can make some slight adjustments, or start the decision making process from scratch to see if you come up with alternative solutions and outcomes to your problem.