about not knowing what you want (and how to figure it out)

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Recently I've been struggling a lot with figuring out what I want to do now that I've got my Bachelor's degree in Psychology. There wasn't one master course I really liked, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to stay at the same university or not and the idea of choosing something that would lead to a job in just over a year seemed a bit daunting. I was even doubting whether studying Psychology was right for me. I thought a lot about taking a gap year, but it wasn't really something I'd prepared for (or saved money for) and I had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. I spent a lot of days searching for volunteer projects abroad, but most were very expensive and they were either too short (just a few weeks) or too long for me (over 10 months). I sent a lot of e-mails, even filled in many application forms  and got accepted to two projects, but it still didn't feel right. Because it's almost August now and time was starting to run out, I felt more and more pressure to make a decision. I also felt extremely tired of not knowing what my life was going to look like from September. 
Over the past few weeks, I did a lot of things to try and make up my mind. And luckily, I can finally say I have a plan that I'm content with. 

These are the things I did to figure out what I want and what's best for me: 

Talk to other people 
When you're trying to make a decision that's important to you, talking to other people can be very helpful, but also very confusing. I think you should definitely ask other people for advice, but it's so important to keep in mind that only you can decide what is best for you at that particular point in your life. Also, ask advice to people who know you and who's opinion you value in other situations as well. 
Over the past few months, I talked to a lot of people about taking a gap year and going abroad, and most of the time it only made my doubts worse. People who had great experiences with traveling or living abroad told me that I should absolutely do it. That now is the perfect time to go. Other people (among which my parents) were a lot more reserved, telling me that it's best to finish my education first and then go afterwards if I still want to. I listened to all of them, but when it came to actually deciding I stepped away from everyone else. 

Reserve time to make up your mind
It's hard to make a decision when you never have time to really think about it. Reserve some time in your schedule to just sit down with your laptop and a notebook and to really actively think about it. 
I am currently taking care of the cat of a friend who's on holiday for two weeks and I'm staying in her house. During this time, I intentionally didn't plan anything for a couple of days, so I could take all the time I needed to figure things out. It was great having no distractions at all, and I felt like I could really reconnect with myself here. 

Write things down
Writing things down on paper definitely worked the best for me when actually making the decision. It was also a great excuse to buy a new notebook ;). Some things that were helpful for me:

•list the options
What are the concrete things you can choose between? 

Pros and cons
What are the pros and cons of each outcome?

Just write down all the thoughts you have about it. I watched a lot of videos about 'stream of  consciousness writing' and wrote down everything about the decision I had to make.

•where do I see myself in 3 years?
I found this exercise online and decided to just start writing. This helped me a lot to make a decision, but also to gain new insights in what I want after I finished my study and what steps I should take to get there. It also made me realize that a lot can happen in three years, and not everything is dependent on what I choose to do in the upcoming year. 

• things that generally make you happy
No matter what decision you have to make, it's always important to know what makes you happy at the end of the day. Writing this down made me realize that being creative is what makes me the happiest and that this is something I miss in my study. Combining the two would be perfect for me. 

•cartesian questions
I am a Psychology student after all. If you really can't make up your mind, asking yourself cartesion questions might help. You basically have to ask yourself four questions: 
1. what will happen if you do 'X'?
2. what won't happen if you do 'X'?
3. what will happen if you don't do 'X'?
4. what won't happen if you don't do 'X'?
And you have to keep asking yourself... What else? 
This exercise can help you to gain more insight in why you're doubting so much and can be very helpful to make a decision. You can find more information about it here.

The YouTube channel Lavendaire also gave me a lot of inspiration and helpful tips to make a decision and on how to write things down. 

Spend time alone
Go on walks, read a book or just drink a cup of tea in the window sill. Spending time alone is so important to figure out what you truly want. I especially love going on evening walks by myself.

Make a decision for you, and nobody else
This one is extemely important. Even though you hopefully have caring people around you who want nothing but the best for you, you should make the decision for yourself. Other people can easily put pressure on you, but you are the one that should live with the outcome. 

Write down the outcome and call it a plan
When you have finally made up your mind, write it down on paper, somewhere you can keep looking back at it. This way you make the decision definite and it will most likely prevent you from having to start all over again.  
And for those of you who are interested, I've decided to stay at home for now and start on my Master's degree. I'll go to another university to have a new, fresh start. I also want to develop my creative skills in the upcoming year. I still have to look into the options, but maybe I'll take art classes or a photography course (or both!). 
Also I'm gonna try to save a lot of money so that I can travel or volunteer after I've got my degree and have a bit more budget to do this. I'll start planning this trip as soon as possible, so that I can really think about it and have something to look forward to. 

Of course there is a chance that I'll regret not going abroad this year. But I also think that everything happens for a reason and it will all make sense in the end. Things will be fine!


  1. Goede tips! Ik vond het na mijn studie ook heel moeilijk een keuze te maken (wat voor baan wil ik nou eigenlijk precies, waar, wil ik al wel gelijk fulltime gaan werken...?) maar het is uiteindelijk ook vooral gelukt door mezelf veel tijd te gunnen om erover na te denken, en niet ergens zomaar in te storten. Xx

    1. Fijn dat je uiteindelijk een keuze hebt kunnen maken! Jezelf tijd geven om na te denken is inderdaad super belangrijk. En dank je wel <3


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  2. So inspiring! Sometimes i definitely need to think about whats important to me instead of other people. Thanks voor the advice. Keep up the good work!


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