When you think about it, life is really a series of decisions threaded together to create experiences that lead to success and happiness. Making decisions is fundamental to the human experience, which is why indecision is stressful.
Are you indecisive? Do you find that you feel anxious when you have to make a decision? Do you defer decisions to others too often? Feeling anxious about making decisions or overcoming serious indecisiveness are negative habits you can eliminate with practice. They are energy drainers and productivity killers. Being decisive is a habit you want to cultivate immediately in order to move closer to the life you’ve imagined joyfully; it frees up time and energy to do more interesting and important things.
If you are trapped in indecisiveness, you should not forget this statement, “a bad decision is better than no decision.” Of course, some decisions are very easy, some are on auto pilot, and others require more time; however, if you have difficulty with even simple decisions, it is important that you trade courage to act over excuses to delay. The tips below will help you do just that. Remember, time is a precious gift that you want to spend doing meaningful things.
Two Concrete Techniques for Dealing with Indecision:
Most decisions do not warrant much time to analyze and act on. When you are stuck on a small matter, it can derail the rest of your schedule for that day. At that point, it is better to use the two minute rule and commit to not spending any more time than that. When you recognize you are waffling over something small, set a two minute timer and make a choice before the timer expires. Try it!
Sure there are decisions that are very important and require more time. It is better to jot those down on a “decisions list” and schedule a later time to address them. Scheduling them allows you to prioritize them (Important/Urgent matrix) and spend the necessary time without interfering with other important tasks. The key here is that the time you spend deciding on the difficult matter will not paralyze you doing the time you should be doing something more important. In addition, you can then tackle it when you have a more calm and positive attitude about it instead of being rushed and fearful.
7 Reasons for Indecision:
Have you ever asked yourself, why am I indecisive? By practicing the two tips above, you are well on the way to getting unstuck and being more productive. However, one must spend time addressing the reasons for being indecisive. Getting to the root cause will help you sustain the habit of making decisions quickly.
When you find yourself taking a long time to make a decision, investigate the why by asking yourself these questions:
1) Are you the true decision maker? Think back and evaluate if someone has always made decisions for you. This may be a life-long habit and now that you are aware, you can change. As an employee, you have a responsibility to meet objectives timely and that requires quality decisions. The manager or supervisor is not the sole decision maker at work. Everyone is a leader in their personal life as well as at work. Whether in life or work, know that you are responsible for making challenging decisions. It is damaging for you to give that power to someone else.
2) Is the goal clear? It helps to jot down what exactly is the outcome you desire. Sometimes we focus on the problem instead of spending the time on the solution. Having an objective statement will bring clarity to the issues and help weed out the noise.
3) Do you have too much or not enough information? Sometime we get stuck in the information gathering and analysis phase. Analysis paralysis is when we have so much information that we get stuck in information overload and can’t see the forest for the trees. In either case, fixing this requires you to organize your information and have a systematic template for evaluating decisions. Be solution oriented by seeking out 2 or 3 options and jotting down the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Here is a template to follow when evaluating solutions:
Objective: what decision do you have to make and why do you have to make it?
Desired Outcome: in an ideal situation, what do you want the situation to look like after the decision is made?
Deadline: when is the deadline for making this decision?
Pros and Cons: what are pros and cons of each option?
Fears: what are your fears?
Courageous Decision: which Solution is your choice and why?
4) Do you lack confidence in the subject? Although you are the decision maker, you can ask for help with gathering information. Seek out experts and ask their advice. Do not depend on them for a decision, only rely on them for information and advice. The only way to truly improve in the area of confidence is to continuously make decisions.
6) Are you uncomfortable with commitment? Leaving your comfort zone is necessary. Know that this is normal and your intentions and your actions as a result is the best you can do. Know that your best is good enough, and whatever the outcome, particularly if it is undesirable, you will bounce back. Keep in mind that there will be times that you will be presented with a choice between two undesirable situations, in those cases, you’ll just have to select the better of the two evils.
7) Is fear a factor? Typically fear seeps in when we mull over the worst that can happen. On the contrary, we need to work on thinking positive. Often times, the perceived outcomes are false evidence appearing real. As long as you are thinking negatively, do not attempt to make a decision. You should move on with something else and then come back to the problem when your mood is positive. Before tackling decision, think about rewarding yourself for the courage to be decisive and take action, not for the outcome.
Overcoming indecisiveness takes a commitment to creating a better version of yourself. Whatever is at the root indecisive, implementing the tips above will alleviate anxiety around decision making. Feel free to leave a comment below, I’m interested in what you think about this topic.