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Why you find it so hard to make decisions – and how to change that

You know things aren’t right, that something has to give. You’re just not sure what. You’ve got that feeling you know so well, the one that raises an alarm in you, without telling you why. You don’t know what to do. So you push the feeling aside and carry on as you were.

Pretty soon, it’s back. That feeling. You think and think and think about it, but you still can’t figure out what it’s about. So you push it aside again. This goes on for weeks, sometimes months. Then, one morning you wake up and know. You know exactly what’s wrong. But instead of feeling relief, you feel anxiety, which paralyses you. It paralyses you, because now you have to make a decision. And you suck at decisions.

You don’t suck at decisions. You’re afraid of making a wrong decision, a mistake.

In fact, you’re so afraid of making wrong decisions – especially the important ones, the ones that will have a meaningful impact on your life – that you do nothing. But doing nothing is actually a decision – you decide to do nothing.

If you do nothing when faced with an important decision, you’re really making THIS decision: to stay stuck with something that’s wrong for you.

The decisions you make in your life define you. The decisions to do something AND the decisions to do nothing. For some reason, you’re more afraid of making what you IMAGINE to be a wrong decision than you are of staying stuck in something you KNOW to be wrong.

You’re choosing the POSSIBILITY of something being wrong over the KNOWLEDGE that something is wrong.

Let’s face it, no one intends to make a decision like that. The way to stop being afraid of making wrong decisions and start choosing to move away from something that’s not working for you is this. You take a deep breath and say out loud as many times as you need until you believe it: “Just because I’m making this decision today, it doesn’t mean that I can’t make a completely different one down the road.” 

Imagine that. Decisions aren’t actually cast in stone! But if you think about it, how can they be? The situation you were in when you made a decision – the way you felt, what was going on in your life, what was going on around you – was unique to that moment.

How can a decision made a week or a month or a year ago possibly be as right for you now as it was then, when how you feel, what’s going on in your life and what’s going on around you have inevitably changed?

The only decision that’s always wrong is the one to do nothing when you know that you need to change something in your life. All other decisions are right – right for you in the moment you took them. Let’s say you decide to move to another country one day, and then decide to move back some time later. That’s great! Your situation (legal, personal, financial, etc.) changed. Let’s say you decide to try your hand at being an entrepreneur and change the type of business you have a few times before you find the right one. That’s great! Your situation (knowledge, market conditions, awareness, etc.) changed.

The other reason you’re afraid of making wrong decisions is that you’re afraid of appearing stupid / incompetent / indecisive / unstable to those around you. You’re worried that they’ll judge you in some way over your change of plans. The first thing to understand is that if people do judge you, their judgement just reflects their OWN fear of making wrong decisions and their misunderstanding of the true nature of decisions. The second thing is that you are the ONLY person who can make decisions for yourself – no one else knows you as well as you do. So if you allow what others think about your decisions to derail you, you’re saying that other people know you better than you do. By all means seek feedback from those close to you, but the final decision lies with YOU.

Your life is the sum of your decisions. Make them count.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).