Woman in field thinking about difficult decision

For me, the past few weeks have been exhausting. I’ve had to make important decisions quickly, and of course, a million things have been going through my head.

Here are some of the things I’ve had to think about:

  • Shall I return to the UK in September?
  • Do I want to continue studying online – if my university offers this?
  • If I don’t go back to university this year, will I do it next year?
  • What is my best alternative if I’m not going back?

Add to that an avalanche of ever-changing covid rules, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. You can’t even plan a week or a month in advance. No one knows if the shops will be open, who can access them, and what restrictions the government may impose.

Take the discussion about mandatory vaccination. In late July, the UK prime minister announced that vaccine passports might be required for university students. But only four days later, harsh criticism emerged and the government backtracked on the proposal.

Nonetheless, Hartpury recently made vaccination a condition for residing in on-campus university accommodation, and other universities may follow suit.

In this chaos and uncertainty, it’s incredibly difficult to make good decisions. But decisions need to be made. And so, today, I want to share some tips and tricks that have helped me figure out the best way forward – even when I felt super overwhelmed.

Tip 1: List the pros and cons

When making decisions, you usually have a few options to choose from. But you probably won’t have a crystal ball to tell you how each option will play out. So figuring out which route is best can be tricky.

That said, you can come pretty far with just the information that you have already. We often know more than we realize. And putting pen to paper can help us make sense of that knowledge.

Writing down your thoughts calms a racing mind, and also encourages you to look at things from a different angle. For example, when I heard that the UK was discussing vaccine passports that sent me into a state of panic, as I noticed that we were far from the promised ‘Freedom Day’ and things weren’t going back to normal just yet.

I started worrying about how the next year at university might look. But when I wrote down all the obstacles and restrictions that I could reasonably foresee, that gave me a much clearer picture of whether I want to return to the UK or not.

Similarly, for all the potential alternatives I was considering, I made a mental list of the pros and cons of each decision. One of my other options, for example, would be to stay at the mobility scale-up where I currently work.

The upsides of this option are that I get to work on tasks I enjoy, I like the team, and I’d get a stable paycheck for the next couple of months. At the same time, the company is being restructured, leading to lots of uncertainty and internal change, and I would probably need to move to Amsterdam, away from friends and family.

Another option is to work for a scale-up in the agriculture industry. The main opportunity of this role is that I can build the company’s marketing from the ground up, and even hire and lead a team of 3-5 people in the coming year. On the flip side, the role involves a lot of responsibility, and I’m not sure whether I am ready to take it on right now.

As you can see, each option has its advantages and disadvantages. Spelling them out like this helps me narrow down my choice. It makes it glaringly obvious if I’ve put down 5 disadvantages and only one advantage for a particular option, or if two options are about equally good on paper.

A list of the pros and cons can also help you compare options, by weighing different factors against each other. Using these lists, you can ask yourself questions like:

  • What is more important to me: living with family or doing a job I love?
  • Am I willing to leave money on the table for more free time?
  • Would I feel worse if I didn’t have X or Y?
  • What do I want to sacrifice to achieve Z?
  • Do I stand by my values – or it is better to conform to people’s expectations?

Tip 2: Take a tarot card reading

Tarot card reading

Especially for big decisions, your heart and head can tell you totally different things. That’s when a list of the pros and cons may not be enough to help you out.

In that case, I like to do a tarot reading to get a more intuitive picture of my options. For those of you who think that tarot readings are weird – hear me out.

As a kid, I used to think that tarot cards were a mysterious thing that weird people (and witches) used to predict the future. Tarot cards spooked me, and with so many wrong predictions coming out of tarot card readings, I thought they were a foolish and deceptive way of making money.

At the time, I didn’t understand how the tarot worked, so I had many misconceptions. But recently, I’ve come to notice that beyond the possibility of divination, tarot cards have a powerful symbolism that can show you what challenges and opportunities to expect, and what feelings you subconsciously hold about a particular route.

For example, here’s a tool where you can do a free decision tarot online and interpret the cards to see how you feel about two different options. The tool also gives you an interpretation of your cards if you click on “Gesamte Deutung” – and if you don’t speak German, simply copy this into a translation software of your choice. Alternatively, learn how to interpret the cards yourself and apply that knowledge to your situation.

Tip 3: Let the stars guide you

Apart from tarot cards, I also use astrology to guide me and highlight the broader trends in my life. Astrology is based on the idea that the positions of planets in the solar system relative to Earth give us insight into recurring themes.

Astrology can help you understand topics on a personal and societal level. For example, this year, Saturn (the planet of conventions, restrictions, governments, and limitations) stands at a 90° angle to Uranus (freedom, progress, innovation and rebellion). This means that the themes of the two planets conflict with each other and that some tension can be expected.

We can see this unfold in the many protests (Uranus) taking place against government restrictions (Saturn). At the same time, the desire to return to normal (Saturn) clashes with the willingness to reshape society for the better (Uranus).

While this is just one example, we all have trends and influences in our personal horoscope that highlight important opportunities and challenges that arise from each decision.

For example, I’m currently influenced by a Uranus transit in my 10th house (career, social standing, authorities). This perfectly summarises the decision that I’m currently making: do I break with tradition? Shall I work instead of going back to university? Or shall can I align my longing for independence (Uranus) with society’s expectations (10th house)?

If you’re not familiar with astrology, it can be difficult to get these insights. Oone of the best books that has helped me get started with astrology is Planets in Transit by Robert Hand. In this book, Robert gives you an in-depth insight into transits. He shows you what influence planets have on your life as they move through your natal chart.

Tip 4: Seek advice from those who know you best

Finally, ask your friends, parents or co-workers for advice. Chances are that they’ve been in a similar position as you before, and can offer some tips and tricks or at the very least reassure you that things will turn out okay.

For example, I asked my current manager if she thinks not graduating from university would hold me back in marketing. I was surprised when she said that a degree matters most in the first few years of your career. This ran counter to what people had told me about university being essential. But given that a former colleague of my manager never went to colleague, and was successful nonetheless, that makes sense.

That information helped me understand where she was coming from, and made me rethink my views about university. However, kep in mind that you will get different advice depending on who you ask. context. For example, my manager could say something to downgrade university if she wants me to stay at the company. My university tutor probably wants me to return to the UK in September and this will inadvertently shape her advice.

But please remember that even with great advice and guidance, the choice is yours. You need to live with your decisions, so do the best you can to make yourself happy. And even if things turn out differently than you expect, most decisions are reversible.

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