More than a decade ago I was looking for advice on whether to choose Computer Science at BITS Goa for my undergrad studies (which I was got through in the first iteration itself) or take up Chemical Engineering in the Pilani campus, and hope that I get a better branch over the next few iterations.

The first person I talked to about this told me there was no reason for me to choose Goa over Pilani, considering I had no specific interest in Computer Science. And Pilani was an easy choice because it was 50 years old legacy campus, with a vast alumni network.

Later I consulted another person from Pilani campus, who had been a star student there. They also told me that I would be stupid not to go for Pilani. Also I could always “study hard, and change my branch after a year.”

I ended up talking to more than half a dozen people from both campuses. I also read way too many posts on BITS360 forums.

After a while I realised something interesting: Whenever someone would say something bad about the Goa campus, I would find some excuse or the other to ignore that opinion, and move on to the next person for advice. And in spite of more than 75% of folks recommending me the Pilani campus, I was still not convinced, and I was hell-bent on finding reasons to choose Goa.

And eventually I ended up doing just that: choosing Goa over Pilani.

Fast forward to 2018. I was super confused about whether to join my current company. I had 3 really good options, and I was losing sleep over whether I would end up making the wrong decision. But within a week, I knew which was the company I was rooting for. One of the offers I had, was for my current company’s direct competitor. The hiring manager there told me repeatedly that I was making a big mistake, and would end up regretting my decision after 5 years. But I still kept reading posts on my current company, looking up numbers, trying to find reasons why it would win against a competitor which was backed by the biggest VC fund ever raised. In spite of what people were telling me, I was rooting for this company. If I read a post about how our biggest competitor would crush us, I would ignore it and just google for more news about my current company, which showed it in a better light.

I ended up making the decision after more than a month, but I knew the answer in the first day itself. I was just looking for data, as well as other people to validate that decision.

This is the reason why I have stopped asking for advice over time. I realised that we already know what we want deep inside. We just want other people to validate that choice for us. Help us make the decision that we have already made.

Nowadays if I want help in making a decision, I just ask for facts or data instead which I can input in some framework I have to make the decision. Even then most of the time, I know deep down what I want and maybe am just looking for signals which can make that choice easy.

This is the same reason I don’t give very specific advice too. I keep my advice generic, and try to talk decision making frameworks instead.

Because we already know the decision we are going to make. We have always known.