Decisions, decisions . . .
Wear a blue shirt or a red shirt? Try to fit in or create your own style? Go out with so-and-so or find a way
to say “No thanks”? Watch some TV or do homework first? Young people make a lot of decisions every
day. Some are easy, others difficult, and still others just plain irritating. But all of these decisions are good
practice for their future as they learn how to take more control of their lives. Best of all, when young people
start connecting the choices they make today with their futures (goals, dreams, ideas for jobs), the better
they’ll get at actually planning for what they want. Planning and Decision Making is Asset 32 of Search
Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, the qualities, experiences, and relationships that help young people
grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.
Here are the facts
Research shows that young people who learn to make good decisions and plan ahead do better in school,
are less likely to engage in drinking, smoking, or using other drugs, and are better able to accomplish more
of what they want. Only about 29 percent of young people, ages 11–18, say they know how to plan ahead
and make choices, according to Search Institute surveys. Show young people different strategies to
effectively plan ahead and make healthy decisions.
Tips for building this asset
Encourage young people to keep a daily “to do” list and check off items as they complete the tasks. Allow
room for mistakes, but avoid rescuing them from the consequences. Celebrate progress and
accomplishments in planning and decision making.
Also try this
In your home and family: Talk with your child about how you make decisions. Have you changed
your approach over time? Invite your child to help with making a decision or plan a family event.
In your neighborhood and community: Invite local young people to help plan and organize a
neighborhood party or potluck.
In your school or youth program: On the board or using newsprint, make two columns. Write
Decision above one column, Future above the other. Have each young person list a decision he or
she needs to make, then rank how connected (1 = low, 5 = high) it is to a future goal or plan (grades,
college, jobs). Discuss.