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How to make decisions in ecology

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Standing at the “decision-making crossroads” doesn’t have to be stressful or uncomfortable experience. It can be an exciting time of self-discovery, transition and embracing new opportunities. Of course, making big life decisions is a characteristic of many times of transition – it can be an exciting time but also one plagued with anxiety and uncertainty. And today we have some tips to help you through this process when you’re in the throws of these big questions and decisions.

Read to the end for your guide to decision making 101.

How to make decisions in ecology | #itsawildlife

Decision making is an integral part of working in the ecology industry – and so often (at least in my experience), when it rains it pours – and sometimes big opportunities and changes present themselves and flow seamlessly when you start opening yourself up to them. Because the industry is such a small one (you know how it is, one degree of separation where everyone always seems to know everyone!), and for this reason it is always important to communicate well, think things through rationally (and provide feedback accordingly) and follow your own heart in order to make well-informed decisions when working in this industry.

Regardless of which stage you’re at in your ecology career, decision making has a huge role to play. Even if you’re that person who has always been clear that this is the pathway for you, everyone feels moments of uncertainty and anxiety while pursuing such a niche career option. It is really important to stay confident in your own strengths and the hard work you’re putting in to forging your own pathway. One early-career wildlifer, Emily Wagdin summed it up perfectly –

 “Some days I have no idea if what I’m doing is going to lead me to what I want. But as long as the general trend is moving forward, I find myself looking down new avenues, then I cross my fingers that I’ll still really enjoy what I’m doing.”

It can certainly be scary when taking the leap of faith at any stage in your ecology career, be it seizing new opportunities or committing to projects you’re not sure if you’ll like. But the braver and more self-aware you can be in this process, the more experience it can give you towards ultimately narrowing your niche.

And speaking of niches, while there are certainly recommendations you take on your journey towards landing your dream job with wildlife, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do anything! As in, take the steps that are right for you and your situation – because this career pathway is so absent, that opens up a whole world of opportunities and choices.

In this way, you can pick and choose the steps you take to gain experience and turn your passion for wildlife into your paycheck. There are so many jobs listed on environmental job boards that ask for a background in marketing, administration, business, engineering or even communication and the arts – wherever your existing passions and talents lie. Emily shares –

“As I begin to job search, I’m realizing that to work with the environment, you don’t necessarily need a science background. With the many conservation issues we face, that passion for nature is really important in every industry. Whatever your strengths, even if it’s not a biology degree, you can always find a way to tailor them towards the environment.”


With all this in mind, and using the unknowns to our advantage, today we have four tips to help you when making decisions in times of uncertainty and transition.

  • Journal and reflect

One of the best places to start with any changes or decisions is with yourself! Find a space and take time to get clear on what you really want. Journal and reflect on what you want from opportunities, where you’re at and where you want to be in six months, a year, five years even?

  • Pros and cons

One of my favourite things to do when making big decisions in my life is writing out a list of pros and cons. Whether you keep your journal out from before or simply use the notes application in your phone, visualizing the length and weighting of points on each list can be very insightful in revealing which option you should take.

  • Manage pressure and anxiety

While it’s certainly easier said than done, try your best to take the pressure off yourself and manage your anxiety during transition times. Creating time and space for yourself to make these decisions is very important, as well as pushing down those feelings of fear, anxiety and imposter syndrome which can run rife in the face of uncertainty and do a lot of unnecessary damage when left unchecked.

Affirmations for confidence, and managing my fatigue are two proven ways I have found to take care of myself during stressful or uncertain times and continue to tune into that energy of change and excitement. Talking things through with someone you love and trust, your partner, a close friend or family member can also be very helpful.

  • Follow your gut feeling

At the end of the day, you need to weigh things up with yourself in the forefront of your mind – after all, if you don’t take care of you, who will?

After spending the time journaling, reflecting, listing pros and cons, and managing your shadows including anxieties and imposter syndromes, you have often started to formulate a bit of an idea of how you should decide. Listen to your heart, follow your gut feeling and test yourself and your emotional reactions by making each decision – does it feel more or less aligned and right for you?

Thank you for reading to the end – let us know whether you’ve found this article helpful or if you have any other suggestions on ways you create stability for yourself around short-term contracts in the ecology space. So reach out and let us know!

Always remember, #itsawildlife is here to give all you wildlife science and conservation professionals the stability and certainty you need to succeed. We provide the tools, resources, and support you in all your contracts – short and long – and have published countless interviews with other wildlifers – professionals in the industry at all stages of their careers – who also provide contact details so you can reach out and build your network. At #itsawildlife we are creating a safe and supportive community, allowing you to feel inspired to pursue new opportunities and connect and build meaningful relationships with other wildlifers. All the best!


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