Making decisions

Everyone finds it hard at times to make decisions. It can be stressful. But it can also mean the start of something new and exciting. This is especially true for big decisions like what you’ll do after you finish school.

Making choices about your future

Part of growing up is making choices about your future. Making decisions can be stressful but there are ways you can make it easier for yourself.

Being decisive will also help you to build confidence. And developing good habits of decision-making will help you as you get older.

Things to remember:

  • no-one makes the right decisions all of the time
  • talking to someone can help
  • writing down your thoughts and feelings can help make things clearer
  • don't panic if you're worried about making a decision.

tips for decision-making

  • think about what you like doing and if this feels right for you
  • write down a list of pros and cons (good and bad things) about each option
  • try to imagine you’ve already made a decision, then think about how you feel – if you’re worried about it, it might not be right for you
  • talk to someone about how you feel, like an adult you trust or a close friend
  • ask questions – talk to people who’ve made similar choices and find out what it was like for them
  • write down how you feel or draw a picture or write something that shows your thoughts and ideas. This can help you understand your situation better
  • remember that you don't have to do anything that makes you feel unsafe.

Big decisions about school

Making choices about your education can feel overwhelming. Here are some things that might help you make those decisions:

  • if you're unsure about which subjects to do for your GCSEs or A Levels, it often helps to talk to a teacher or another adult who you trust
  • visit colleges or universities and talk to students and teachers to find out what it’s like to study there
  • if you don't get the results you were hoping for, you may have to make some quick decisions. Just remember – you have options and you can get help. See our exam results page for ideas.

For any decisions about your future, it helps to talk to someone. You could talk to a teacher or careers adviser, as well as your parents or carers. And don’t forget that Childline is always here for you.

Dealing with wrong decisions

If you’ve made a choice you’re no longer happy with – or think you’ve made the wrong decision – tell someone who might be able to help. If it’s a problem with a course at school or college, you can talk to your teacher or careers adviser and get help.

You don’t have to do anything that'll make you unhappy. The sooner you speak to someone about it, the easier it’ll be to change.

It might be scary but realising that something isn’t right is a part of learning to make decisions. Nobody makes the right decision all the time. Lots of people change their minds about decisions, even if they were sure about them before.

If you’re worried about your future, or you’re having a tough time making decisions, you can talk to us at any time. Or visit the message boards and ask other young people for their opinions. Some people may have gone through similar things and can tell you about their experiences.

Staying calm when making decisions

Learning to make your own decisions can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. A first step could be to think about your choices and write a list of what’s important to you and how you'd like things to be. Try to find a time to do this when you won't be busy, so you can concentrate.

There are lots of people who can give you advice and support when you make decisions. Parents, older brothers or sisters, teachers and friends can all be helpful. Find out more about asking an adult for help.

It can often feel stressful trying to work out what to do. Take deep breaths and find a quiet time to think about things – this can help you to focus. If it all feels like it’s too much, you can find more tips in our guide to managing your anxiety.

You could try reading the BBC's problem-solving worksheet (PDF) which can help with your decision-making. After you write down your problem, you can use the worksheet to:

  • see the good and bad things about each option
  • see the steps you need to take to achieve your goal
  • keep a record of your plans and progress.

If you’re worried about making a decision, remember – you can always talk to Childline for support and to get advice about your future.