Since Tuomas already took a good look at the responses, I’m not going to repeat that. Instead, I’ll do what any analyst always does: wrangle the data for any other useful nuggets of information. So if you’re interested in the responses to the open questions, I direct you to Tuomas’s analysis.
What I find interesting is the comparison of career and family. Career alternatives and decision time seem to be relatively well known, but objectives not so much. With family, the situation is the exact opposite: objectives are clear, but consequences and decision time are very vague. This is probably due to the fact that many family decisions we can still afford to put off for several years, whereas many career choices at this point demand our choice by a certain date.
What other interesting patterns can we find? Well, here’s one:
All in all, I’m surprised how low the values in Table 1 are, especially since the measure was a self-report one. It looks to me as if respondents are comparing themselves to a perfect world, which is a tad unfair. We will never have perfect information, and uncertainty is something we’ll just have to tolerate to a degree. Of course, when there are information-laden variables that can help you, you ought to measure. But even after all the measurements you could do, there’s still going to be uncertainty. So what’s one to do? Well, I recommend heeding the advice of Reid Hastie and Robyn Dawes:
“[--] our advice is to strive for systematic external representations of the judgment and decision situations you encounter: Think graphically, symbolically, and distributionally. If we can make ourselves think analytically, and take the time to acquire the correct intellectual tools, we have the capability to think rationally.” – Rational Choice in an Uncertain World, p. 334
So, in short. Recognize that you can’t have it all. Decide what it is that you want, and then apply focused, analytical thinking to reach that.