Dental students face important decisions on a daily basis. Both personally and professionally, your career moves could alter the course of your life for years to come. Therefore, you might be hesitant when faced with any big decision, as you may not know how each will play out down the line. You don’t want to regret your decision and find out that the option you didn’t take was the better path for you.
The truth is, you can never know how a decision will affect you until you make it. The best that you can do when faced with an important decision is ask yourself some questions so that you can properly weigh the situation. Making a mental pros and cons list will help you filter out the decisions that are less advantageous for the more appropriate ones. You don’t want to be impulsive and jump too far ahead before you got a chance to think things over.
Here are questions that you can ask yourself:
What are my options, and what are the pros and cons of each?
What are my post-graduation options? Should I relocate with this new position? As aforementioned, it’s important to weigh each option for what good and bad will come of it. You don’t want to move too fast into making a decision without examining the potential repercussions. In order to get clarity on the situation at hand, sometimes a simple rundown of each option could give you the better answer, albeit sometimes surprising.
What would I tell a friend to do in this situation?
Sometimes you might not realize how hypercritical you are of yourself, and get so wrapped up in the idea of the situation that you overanalyze it. This is why building mentor relationships with your dental peers is so important. Take yourself out of the equation. If the same opportunity presented itself to a classmate or colleague, what would you encourage him or her to do? If you see things as a third party, you might come away with better insight in yourself, and how exactly you would approach the decision.
What’s the worst-case scenario?
Something as simple as analyzing what the worst-case scenario if you decide on one option over the other could help you make a decision without being overwhelmed. Focus on the risk over reward. Is this a risky move? What am I afraid of in this situation? Can I cope with the fallout if I decide to take this leap? Usually, a gut instinct is enough to make a choice, but ask yourself a series of questions about the bottoming out. But remember: it’s not the end of the world.
What would the future look like if I make this decision?
Look ahead a couple of months, or a few years. When you’re split between pursuing an associateship and residency, what does your future look like after picking one choice over the other? You might not know all the answers to these questions of the future, but maybe there are some inevitabilities that will occur based off your decision. Visualizing the future can help make the decision. If you feel good about where you’ll be down the line, it is most likely your best choice.
Take a breath. Our lives are filled with so many big decisions you might not think that you’re taking the time to properly assess them and make an informed choice. You’ll definitely benefit from taking a step back, thinking hard, and asking yourself the above questions. The best thing you can do is not rush too far ahead, and make the choice that feels best for you after an intense overview.