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, though. Making decisions might be difficult sometimes. But like any skill, you can get better at it with practice.
Why is it hard?
Fear of making the wrong decision is one of the reasons that many people hesitate when faced with a choice. You may be afraid of failure or even the consequences of success. You may worry what other people will think about you. Perfectionism may be getting in your way.
And you might be out of practice, especially if you haven’t made many big decisions in your life.
Indecision isn’t always bad. Sometimes hesitation gives you valuable time to think about the situation. It gives you the chance to gather more information and weigh the facts. If you can’t make a quick decision, it may be a sign that the choice really matters to you. If you’re second guessing yourself, it might be a warning that you’re about to make the wrong decision. The important thing is to not let indecision keep you stuck forever.
Indecision becomes a bad thing when it lasts too long. How long is too long? That depends on the circumstances. Will you miss an important opportunity if you wait? Could you lose something that you really want? Is the decision getting harder to make, the more you dwell on it?
Indecision can sometimes 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 might move into your dream home.
You can change
You may have already labeled yourself an indecisive person, 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. Tell yourself, you can become a decisive person!
If you can’t make a decision, there’s a good chance that you’re afraid of something. Figure out what it is and write it down. Ask yourself what you’ll do if your fear comes to pass. Is it truly possible? If so, how will you cope?
For example, you might be considering a job change but fear the financial risks. Maybe the new job pays less than your current job. Consider how the reduced income will affect your life and how you might deal with it. Then set your fear aside and make the decision that seems best to you.
Tune in to 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 isn’t going to get any easier.
Set a time limit on your research, list-making, and pondering. 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.
To become an expert at anything, you need to practice. Start making little decisions every day. Shoot for at least 10 decisions. 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 choose 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!
Will this matter?
Sometimes, decisions seem much bigger than they really are. Maybe you’re struggling with a new car purchase. Will it really matter 10 years from now which car you choose?
The answer might be “No!” But even when it’s “Yes!”, remind yourself that many decisions are reversible. You can sell the car if it doesn’t work out. You might be able to move back if you don’t like the new town. You can quit your new job if it’s really horrible. Try not to take the decision more seriously than you need to. Be realistic about the risks involved.
List your strengths. Are you smart? Funny? Creative? Ask yourself if you can incorporate your strengths into your decision-making process. For example, if you’re creative, consider making a collage to represent each choice in front of you. Your strengths can also help you achieve what you set out to do, once you’ve made a choice.
Finally, accept the power of “good enough,” especially if you tend to be a perfectionist. None of us can achieve perfection all of the time.