By: Riley Nielsen
The people that are faced with the most critical decisions in a short amount of time are college students. There are so many major things to decide that will affect the rest of their lives. What college do I want to attend? What major do I want to pursue? What minor do I want? What kind of job do I want after school? How am I going to afford school? The list of questions that need answers goes on. Graduating from high school is one thing. The next step shakes the very ground beneath many freshman college students. Some students go through their entire college career following the crowd or looking for the easiest and shortest way out. A lot of students lack critical decision-making skills.
Many scholars, professors, experts and professionals attest to the importance of critical decision-making, in a variety of studies, books, courses, testimonials and personal anecdotes. There are many noteworthy people to mention, here’s only a few; Earl Nightingale, Rollo May, Dorothea Brande, Victor Frankl, Brendon Burchard, Bertrand Russel and Tony Robbins.
The decision-making process does improve as time rolls on and student’s progress further in their higher education. For example one freshman at the University of Utah was asked what his major was. He stated he was a business major. His response did not show much conviction or passion to his decision. He was then asked why he chose that particular major. He replied with even less certainty, “well I have a sales background and I thought I might do well in the program.”
Another student was asked the same questions but this student was a junior. With confidence and poise she answered the questions what is your major and why did you choose that one? Her responses were, “I am a Biology major, and I chose this because I love biology and want to be a Botanist.” This student had an end goal in mind which guided and directed her decision-making. A former Professor once said, many students would benefit greatly if they understood a little better why and how decisions are made. Unfortunately it’s not common knowledge for most people. Luckily the material is out there for everyone.
Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making. Shows the how and why decisions are made. His work done in Thinking, Fast and Slow lays the foundation of what it means to make a decision. Kahneman breaks down the mind into two systems, System I and System II. The first system is everyday decision-making, for example driving to work, driving home from school, or listening to music. There is little to no effort required for these decisions. It’s basically the autopilot decision maker.
System II is where the complex problem-solving, and rational thinking is done. Many need this when studying or learning something new. Since this system requires much more energy than System I it is used less by most people. This lack of deep-thinking affects many students because this system is absolutely needed for important decisions like picking a career. This means when a student that picks a career using System I will most likely choose something that most people choose or what he is told to choose.
As Earl Nightingale says “we become what we think about.” With that in mind this way of thinking will affect a student’s life greatly and the majority of the time it is negatively impactful. Studies show that not being autonomous is heavy on one’s mental health. The implications of the lack of decisions made are numerous just a few are depression, anxiety, lack of motivation, apathy or indifference. This way of thinking is like quicksand, slowly bringing students down until they cannot get out, luckily there is a way out. Dr. Maxwell Maltz, founder of Psycho-Cybernetics, teaches how to change the way of thinking.
Dr. Maltz makes it clear that our brain is like a machine that we employ to become what we want to become. In one comparison he says our brain is like a “heat-seeking missile.” Heat-seeking missiles only read negative feedback when the target is not in range. As soon as the correction is made feedback stops. A missile on target stops at nothing until the target is reached, the brain has the same process. Brains need a goal to work for. For example, students’ brains that have a clear goal are at maximum potential. The brain will correct the problem if the goal is off target. As soon as the goal is on target it is smooth sailing.
To combat-how most experts define it-mediocrity, Dr. Maltz has an easy and seemingly effortless way. He says utilize ‘worry’ to achieve ones worthy goal. All the worrying about what to be, who to be, where to be, finals, social life and work a student becomes drained. However according to Dr. Maltz if a person decided for themselves to do what they want, that “worry” produces “enthusiasm, cheerfulness, encouragement, and happiness.” All the experts agree that we become what we think about. What are you thinking about?