Emotional & Mental Health
5 Steps for Overcoming Indecision
Indecision Is No Fun
Does figuring out what to wear to a party put you into a tailspin? Do you become paralyzed when trying to decide whether or not to take that new job? Struggling with indecision is like being stuck in the mud. It’s just no fun. Famous psychologist and philosopher William James said, “There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.” Don’t worry. Making decisions may be difficult, but like any skill, you can get better at it.
Why Is Making Decisions So Hard?
Fear of making the wrong decision is one of the big reasons many people hesitate. What if you make a mistake? You may be afraid of failing, or even of succeeding. You may worry about what other people will think.
Perfectionism can also prevent you from making decisions, because you can never guarantee the perfect outcome. Or, you may just plain be out of practice, especially if you haven’t made many big decisions in your life.
The Up-Side of Indecision
Indecision isn’t always bad. Sometimes hesitation gives you time to think the situation over and get clear about all the facts. It gives you a chance to gather more information. The fact that you’re not able to make a quick decision may be a signal that the choice really matters to you, or perhaps that you’re about to make the wrong decision. The important thing is not to let indecision keep you stuck forever.
The Downside of Indecision
Indecision becomes a bad thing when it lasts too long. How long? It depends on the circumstance. Might you miss an important opportunity if you wait? Could you lose something you really want?
Indecision can also become decision by default. If you decide not to decide, you give up your power of choice. Someone else might be hired for that job you wanted, or another buyer may move into your new home.
You Hold the Key to Change
You may have already labeled yourself as indecisive, but don’t cut yourself short. You can learn to make decisions just like you learned to perform a job interview or drive a car. It’s a skill like any other. Lacking confidence in your ability is only a mindset.
Take a step back and regroup. You can become a decisive person!
Step 1: Forget the Fear
If you can’t decide, most likely you’re afraid of something. What is it? Write it down. Ask yourself what you’ll do if what you fear comes to pass. Is it truly possible? If so, how will you cope?
Say you’re considering a job change, but your fear is lack of money. The new job pays less than your current job, but it has other benefits. Decide how you might deal with the reduced income, then set the fear aside and make the decision that sounds best to you.
Step 2: Tune in to Your Emotions
Many people who have trouble making decisions tend to over-analyze. There comes a time when no matter how much information you have, or how much logic you’ve applied, the decision is not going to get any easier.
Set a time limit on your research and list-making. Then ask yourself: “Which would do me the most good: A or B?”Quickly rate each option from one to ten. Go with your gut. The option with the higher number is the option you should choose.
Step 3: Practice on the Small Stuff
To become an expert at anything, you need to practice. Start making little decisions every day. Shoot for at least 10. Decide what you’re going to have for lunch and what route you’re going to take to work. Go to your favorite store and decide on just one small purchase. As little things come up throughout the day, practice making faster decisions. Unless it’s a big one, don’t put it off. Give yourself a time limit and decide!
Step 4: Learn to Trust Yourself
Then list your strengths. Are you smart? Funny? Creative? Ask yourself if you can incorporate your strengths into your decision-making. (For example, if you’re creative, make a collage of each choice.) Finally, accept “good enough”—especially if you tend to be a perfectionist.
Step 5: Will This Matter 10 Years from Now?
Decisions can loom large in our minds. Maybe you’re struggling with a new car purchase. Will it really matter 10 years from now which car you choose?
What if your answer is, “Yes, it will matter!” Nearly all decisions are reversible. You can sell the car if it doesn’t work out. Move back if you don’t like the new town. Quit the job if it’s really horrible. Try not to take the decision too seriously. You learn by doing, so don’t be afraid to decide!