Guide to Good Decision Making

Guide to Good Decision Making Exercise1

You may download a PDF copy of this guide here

A cycle can be used to show the steps in making a career choice. Use the blank spaces below to note your thoughts and feelings about your career choice.

Communication - Knowing I Need to Make a Choice

Events- things that happen to me
Example: "I need to choose a major by next semester."

Comments from my friends and relatives
Example: "My roommate said that I'll have problems if I don't make a decision soon."

The way I feel
"I'm scared about committing myself."

Avoiding my problems
"I'll get started next week."

Physical problems
"I'm so upset about this, I can't eat."



Analysis - Understanding Myself, Options, DecisionMaking, and Thoughts

Understanding myself

My values
Example: security

My interests
Example: working with people

My skills
Example: using a computer to plan a budget

My employment preferences
Example: limited travel

Understanding my options

What I know about the occupation, program of study, or job
Understanding specific occupations, programs of study, or jobs

Understanding how occupations, programsof study, or jobs are organized


  • Realistic Occupations
  • Investigative Occupations
  • Artistic Occupations
  • Social Occupations
  • Enterprising Occupations
  • Conventional Occupations
Understanding how I make important decisions

Thinking, feeling, and/or getting advice from others

Understanding thoughts related to my decisions

Example: "I'll never be able to make a good career choice."

Example: "I'm getting very scared about this."

Monitoring and controlling my self-talk
Example: "I can't really predict the future and imagining failure is not going to help me find a good job."


Synthesis - Expanding and Narrowing My Options

Identify occupations, programs of study, or jobs that fit my values, interests, and skills Pick the 3 to 5 best occupations, programs of study, or jobs using what I learned from "Understanding Myself and My Options"



Evaluing - Prioritizing My Options

Benefits to myself? My family? Friends? Cultural group? Community? Society?

Costs to myself? My family? Friends? Cultural group? Community? Society?

Occupation, program of study, or job


Prioritize my occupations, programs of study, or jobs

My first choice:
My back-up choice(s):

  • 1st:
  • 2nd:
  • 3rd:
  • 4th:
  • 5th:


Execution - Implementing My First Choice

(Complete the sections below that apply to you)

  • Plan - My plan for getting education or training
  • Try Out - Get experience (full time, part-time, volunteer) and take courses or get training to test my choice
  • Apply - Steps to apply for and get a job or pursue further education


Communication - Knowing I Made a Good Choice

  • Have events changed?
  • How did my family and friends react to my choice?
  • How do I feel now?
  • Am I avoiding doing what needs to be done?
  • Am I satisfied with my choice?
  • Am I confident with my choice?

1 Adapted from Sampson, J. P., Jr., Peterson, G. W., Lenz, J. G., & Reardon, R. C. (1992). A cognitive approach to career services: Translating concepts into practice. The Career Development Quarterly, 41, 67-74.


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