My mother and I used to have this ongoing joke: I’d call her up, tell her about a decision I had to make, and then I’d come to a conclusion. Then, a few days later, I’d have the same conversation with her and advocate for the other option, and decide to go that way. And I used flop back and forth a few times before I finally came to my final decision. And then I’d call her and moan because I didn’t know if I’d made the right decision.
Poor Mama. She never complained or lost patience with me when I did this. I guess she just saw the pattern before it developed and braced herself not to get annoyed with me. And when I sounded so convincing (maybe I only sounded that way to myself), she’d just agree and give whatever input I asked for. This went on throughout high school and most of college, until she made a casual remark to me one day. I was babbling on and on about the difficulty of making a decision when she said, “just decide”. That was it. That’s all she said but it became crystal clear to me that it could be that easy.
Don’t Make It Hard On Yourself
The reason that it can be hard to make a decision on an issue is that you want two different things but can’t have them both. Another reason is that the outcome is very important to you and you don’t want to make a mistake. You greatly increase the agony of making a decision when you go back and forth about it.
The first step in minimizing the agony is to become as clear as possible about what you want and why you want it. I suggest you either talk over the issue with a friend – explaining your reasoning out loud helps you clarify your intention – or either do an old-school pros and cons list. But once your options and reasonings become clear to you, don’t hesitate. Just decide. Its also vitally important to keep your vision of what you want in mind, so that your decision is in alignment with that.
That whole back and forth thing is your mind’s way of keeping itself occupied, and you must exercise control and reign your thoughts in. Dwelling on the past or anticipating failure does not serve you in your decision making. Furthermore, the longer you stand in one spot, the more you are affecting your control over the outcome. You don’t know which opportunities could come your way if you allowed them to, instead of fretting about what might not happen. Its natural to be concerned about how your decision will play out, and whether you’ll be successful with your choice. But its destructive to your peace of mind and damaging to your goals if you straddle the fence for too long.
‘No Decision’ Is Still A Decision
The thing about straddling the fence for too long is that life on either side of the fence is still going on while you’re stuck in limbo. So standing still is still movement, because the ebb and flow of life will move you along if you don’t set your own course. You’ll be tossed around like a boat with no oars if you don’t make a decision, and you could end up in a worse spot than the one you’re trying to avoid.
I used to have a saying, “if I choose A then B will no longer exist”. I felt that by making one choice, I nullified the second option forever. While its true that you can eliminate one choice at that time, hindsight has taught me that if you make a decision that you feel was the wrong one, you can go back and pursue the second option for the majority of the time. You may be a little older, have a little more debt but in the end if you achieve your aim then it will all be worth it. Plus the delayed gratification and lessons you learned while pursuing your first option will serve you well as you pursue the second option.
So what say you? Do you have a hard time making decisions? What steps can you take when making a decision to relieve your internal stress?