Make Wise Decisions, Part 1

Reflect, research, decide... then act

As you move closer to making decisions about your future, take a look at the information found in this section, which will help you weigh the benefits of several possible options. Before you lock yourself into something, spend some time really thinking things through.

Let's start by tackling the decision-making process. Making wise decisions can be broken down into a three-step process:

  1. Reflect (below)
  2. Research
  3. Make a decision and set goals

image of heather

See how Heather got started reflecting on her service experience.
Heather doesn't hold still for long. She can't stand the thought of not knowing what she's doing next. She is thinking about what she'll do next year all the time and keeping track of her evolving ideas and newly made contacts in her calendar. Since she might go back to school, she has made a list of the schools where she might apply and noted the application and financial aid deadlines in her next year's calendar. She has also made a list of the experts she's worked with who might be willing to write her recommendation letters, if school is the route she chooses to go. Since she is also considering starting a nonprofit, she is keeping track of annual grants that close and marking them in her calendar, so that if the same grant is offered again next year, she will be ready to apply. She is also keeping her eye open for vacant office space in the neighborhood where she might want to establish her nonprofit and writing down the phone numbers of the leasing companies.

Making Wise Decisions, Part 1: Reflect

Before plunging into your plans for the future, spend some time reflecting and getting to know yourself a little better. Be honest. Think about your service site and other professional settings you are familiar with. What have you really enjoyed and what have you struggled with? How will your experiences shape the decisions you make about your next steps?
This list should help you begin thinking of your priorities when it comes to your next steps. Think about your likes and dislikes but also think about your past experiences and how they affected you.
  • Size of organization: Do you want to know everyone by name?
  • Staff structure: Clearly defined or more casual?
  • Organizational culture and dress code: Formal? Relaxed? Dressy-if-necessary?
  • Resources available: Will training and guidance be available?
  • Leadership: Has the head of your service site, and/or your direct supervisor been supportive and understanding?
  • Work plan: Has your service been challenging? Not challenging enough?
  • City/town: Think about where you live.

journalJournal #5: Learning from experience

In this journaling activity, you'll create a list to help you begin thinking of your priorities when it comes to your next steps. Think about your likes and dislikes but also think about your past experiences and how they affected you. As with all journal entries, feel free to record your response in a blog or on paper.

Please respond in your journal to this writing prompt:

List your priorities when it comes to an organization where you’d like to serve or work in the future.
(Here are a few aspects you may wish to consider when writing about your priorities):
  • Size of organization
  • Staff structure
  • Organizational culture and dress code
  • Resources available
  • Leadership
  • Work plan
  • City/town)

See Heather’s journal entry

Would you like to see a sample of how someone else responded to this journaling activity? You can take a look at what Heather wrote. (pdf)

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