Student Stories

Trina is a first year college student. She hasn’t declared a major and feels a lot of pressure to get it done. What is holding her back? Wanting to make the right choice and not being sure what that is. The external pressure to choose is creating an internal pressure to know right now something she doesn’t know.

April is working a temporary job so she can get back to school in the fall. Her employer treats her and her co-workers poorly. Should she stay in the job because it’s full time and guarantees enough money to return to school, or should she stand up for herself and look for something else?

James is a senior in high school. He’s been accepted to the college of his choice, but isn’t sure if he should declare a major or go undeclared. He has a strong understanding of himself and what he wants to do. What is holding him back? Hearing a lot of well-meaning people share what they think he would be good at. He thinks he knows what he wants to do, but with all the well-meaning voices surrounding him, he is lacking the confidence to go for it.

Regret Free Decision Making

So how do you make a good decision in a timely manner that you won’t regret? That is the core question before each of these students.

I believe the key to good decision making is being clear on personal values and then choosing to honor those values when it’s time to make a choice.

For the sake of this blog we are going to define values as something uniquely important to an individual. It’s those things that make each of us stand out a bit from all of our friends and relatives. Values are different from morals that we often share within our families, churches, or communities. They help identify and distinguish us from others.

Clarifying Values

How do you find your values or the values of the students in your life? The process is pretty straight forward.

  • First ask yourself or the students in your life what is important. Often you will hear answers such as family, friends, and/or faith.
  • Take each value listed and dig into it. Ask questions such as, “What is meaningful to you about family?” And then go from there. Watch for the energy level to pick up as you ask questions and listen for that aha moment where you or the students in your life can determine exactly what is so important about family, etc.
  • Repeat the process with each value and look for patterns to pinpoint the passion within each value.

Don’t Second Guess Decisions; Base Them On Your Values.

Through the values exercise, Trina discovered that she really does have ideas of what she wants to do and the work she is passionate about. She made a mindset shift from I have to know now and I don’t know, to I have some ideas and I need to see what is possible. I have time to do this right – no regrets. Trina got clear on her values and was able to move confidently and enthusiastically toward choosing the right field of work.

April felt strongly that the work environment she found herself in wasn’t okay and she chose to give her job notice that she was resigning. She knew this meant that she would have to work hard and fast to find another position, which she was committed to doing. Her decision reflected her values and she was able to find another job even before her final day at her original place of employment.

James also worked through the values exercise. As it became clearer to him who he is and what is important to him, he gained the confidence needed to declare a major that reflected his newfound knowledge. He was able to quickly weed out career choices that would require him to work alone at a desk and choose something that would allow him to be active and with people; things that are immensely important to him.

While helping someone determine their values is not a lengthy process, it is a tool and skill that is beneficial for a lifetime. Do you know what you most highly value? If not, give me a call and we will figure it out together. Decisions based on personal values build confidence and leave no room for regrets.

Thanks for checking out my blog! Clarifying Values is an Academic Life Coaching concept. I am an ICF certified Academic Life Coach and train youth advocates in the Academic Life Coaching 1.0 coach training program. I’m also an adoptive mom, youth advocate and a licensed therapeutic foster parent. For more information about this program for the student in your life or on how to train as a coach, please contact me here.

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