Do you sometimes find yourself making every excuse possible to avoid making a decision?
It can be challenging to be decisive. Even the smartest, most accomplished people can find it hard to make decisions. For some it is a chronic problem, and for others it happens sporadically, but almost all of us can relate to having had trouble being decisive at one time or another.
I recall this challenge myself, years back, when I owned my design firm. My team asked me to please make faster decisions!
What a revelation! I was aware of taking my time to be sure I was thinking things through carefully, but had no idea that my slow decision-making was a problem for my team. I was holding them up.
They assured me that even if I made an “imperfect” decision, it was preferable to move ahead, knowing that we could course-correct if needed.
Did it sting to hear that? It did a little. Was it helpful to hear? Yes!
Why it can be hard to make decisions
In my case, indecisiveness was rooted in perfectionism.
I had a deep-seated belief that I had to be perfect — and perfectionism is a powerful way the self-critic loves to show up to sabotage us.
Like many people, I thought there had to be a perfect solution in response to any question or choice. Thus, I spent way too much time analyzing each decision to ensure that it was the “perfect” one.
Overly-deliberating about decisions was just one of many ways that perfectionism got in my way in those days. I was not conscious of it then, but it became clear that perfectionism was the underlying driver of my indecisiveness.
Fear — of failure, of conflict, of judgement, and more — is another cause of indecisiveness.
Fear is another huge way the self-critic steps in to limit us.
Fear of failure is incredibly common, and it’s a close cousin of perfectionism.
Many people fear making decisions because their decision may rock the boat and cause conflict. Or they fear that others will criticize their choice.
Some fear feeling remorse for a decision.
Fears like these can prompt people to push off making any decision at all.
Perhaps you are an over-thinker. Some people believe they must think everything through from every possible vantage point. And there are times when it is wise to be very thorough in reviewing a matter.
However, over-thinking can become a habit and a crutch. It is often an indicator that procrastination is at play (and procrastination is yet another way the self-critic steps in to get in our way).
Anxiety or depression may be making it hard for you to make decisions. The need to make decisions can make you feel overwhelmed.
How I made faster decisions with less stress
The insight that I was holding others up by being indecisive, and hearing that they welcomed me to make faster decisions even if they weren’t perfect, freed me.
I was able to trust myself. I had “permission” to refine and make changes from that point forward.
It was a game-changer for me!
It opened the way for me to think expansively about what was possible, listen to my intuition, and make faster decisions.
I came to appreciate that I could continue to modify and create next steps as we moved forward.
Decisions that had felt so monumental began to look like steps along a path that was ongoing and full of possibility.
Adopting this approach can work similarly if fear is the factor that drives indecision, or over-thinking and procrastination are the root cause.
If you are aware that anxiety or depression are factors for you, I suggest you talk about that with a counselor, therapist or another medical professional.
What decisions are you making now?
As the world is opening up now, we have many new opportunities and many of us face making decisions of all sorts.
This can be exciting, or can bring on a sense of overwhelm.
I urge you to try and approach making decisions with a new frame of mind, much as I learned to do. Experience the liberation of moving forward, and how good it feels to continue to create each new step in your life.