In college, my roommate would live by the philosophy “When confronted with a decision, if you don’t know what to do, then it is best to do nothing.” At the time, I thought this was great advice, but as I have gotten older, I’ve come to believe that this may not be the best path to follow.
Every day we are faced with decisions. Committing to a simple choice, however, may not be as easy as we’d like. Indecision often stems from fear. The fear is generally driven by a concern that we will make the “wrong” decision, as if there is only a right or wrong outcome. Many of us suffer from a need for certainty, and maybe more important, a need to be right. Not making a decision, however, can cause a lot of wasted time, anxiety and stress, which in the end, sabotages our ability to succeed at making change and is a roadblock to finding happiness.
When we look at decisions through a lens of “right” or “wrong,” we limit ourselves from experiencing the unexpected. Further, although keeping our options open may seem like a good idea, it can often result in stagnation and a lack of accomplishment, meaning we don’t let ourselves experience anything at all. Although you’d think people regret making the wrong decision, regret is more often a result of lack of action. Even a perceived wrong decision can bring about better results than no decision at all.
If you suffer from indecision, here are a few things that may help you to start being more decisive:
- Prioritize Around Your Values: Understanding your values is the basis from which you can become more decisive. This self-awareness and understanding allows you to make choices based on what is in your best interest. When confronted with a situation, you’ll be better prepared to weigh your options and prioritize them so they best align with what is important to you.
- Build Your Self-Confidence: The inability to make decisions can often be a result of a lack in self-confidence. It is important to trust your intuition and believe in yourself to take an appropriate course of action. Realize that you have the power to create the life you want, and believe in yourself to make it the best possible.
- Let Go of Perfection: If part of your indecision is because you are looking for a perfect outcome, remind yourself there is no such thing as perfect, “right” or “wrong,” or “good” or “bad.” All choices presented to you can work. Not choosing one, however, won’t work. Making any decision provides you with benefits: you will move forward, you may learn more about yourself, and you may learn lessons for the future.
- Keep Your Decisions Personal: Sometimes we struggle to make decisions because we worry about what others will think of us. For instance, if you choose a job because it is considered prestigious, even though you don’t have interest in the work, you are making a decision predicated on what others think and not based on who you are or what you want. Make sure your decisions are a reflection of you, your values and what is important to you.
- Get Outside Perspective: Although you want to ensure your decisions are predicated on your own goals and needs, it can be helpful to get outside perspective from a mentor, a friend you trust, or someone who knows you well. They may be able to shed some light on your options and the situation to help you gain perspective.
- Turn Challenges into Opportunities: If your indecision stems from the idea that each solution presents challenges, look at ways to turn those challenges into opportunities. For instance, if you fear changing careers may mean you won’t have necessary skills required for the job, use that situation as an opportunity to learn new skills so you are prepared. Not only will those skills be helpful in your potential new career, but it may present opportunities down the line.
What if you make or have made a decision that you feel wasn’t the best? How do you deal in that situation?:
- Accept and Forgive: If it turns out that you make a decision that you think could have been better, accept the outcome, learn from it and forgive yourself so you can move forward. Getting stuck in the past will not help you to move forward. Failure is often the best tool for ultimate success.
- Stay Positive: Instead of focusing on the decision itself, focus on your attitude and how you handle yourself. Regardless of the decision you make, maintaining a positive attitude will have a much bigger impact on the overall outcome of the situation than the decision itself.
- Learn from Mistakes: Always look for opportunities to learn from decisions you feel weren’t in your best interest. This will teach you how to deal with future situations and make you stronger and better prepared to make decisions in the future.
Learn more about the roadblocks to creating your best life and in making change you want with A Whole New You: Six Steps to Ignite Change for Your Best Life.
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