Law student turned philosopher and Rutgers University lecturer, Ruth Chang has come to solve all your existential crises. Chang has a five step program to help you make the big decisions in life; what should my career be, should I have kids, should I move home, and many others.
Update your browser or Flash plugin
1. Decide what matters most to you in the decision and between the alternatives.
2. Gather all the information you can. Whilst we have no certainty on how each answer will pan out, try and learn as much as possible about each alternative. Draw a pros and cons list, ask your friends, ask your mother, search the internet, do anything you can.
3. Realise that neither option may be the “best” for you. Most people repeat steps one and two over and over again, trying to figure out what is best for them or what they will be best at. Ruth Chang encourages us to contemplate the possibility that there won’t be better option and that both can be equally fitting and beneficial.
4. Once you realise there is not better option, recognise that whatever you do, you won’t be acting against reason. As you now know there is no best option, you know that you will not be making any mistakes regardless of which alternative you choose. Each is equally beneficial or fitting for you and therefore the “world is silent” as to what you should do.
5. Throw yourself behind one alternative and commit. Reflect on which option you can invest all your energy and time into, what you can morally and physically stand behind. Ruth claims that reflection is not only a major part of the decision making process, but also daily life. Reflection allows us to step back from our core desires, values and motivations (instilled in us by our psychology, genetics or upbringing) and allows us to question whether we should value these things. By reflecting on what you should do, you can figure out what you can commit to.
Ruth concluded with this philosophical statement, “the silence of the world and the power of human reflection, give us the freedom to make ourselves individual agents.” You can learn more about Ruth, her publications and a link to her TED talk via her website.