I’ve always found even the smallest decisions to be stressful and impossible. But I just chalked that up to being an indecisive person, whatever that means. As it turns out, though, “indecisive” isn’t just an innate personality trait. It’s often an indication that something is off.
I recently went to a clarity coach, and it changed how I think about decisions. I used to think that if I couldn’t make a decision, there just was no right answer, and I’d might as well flip a coin and get it over with. But my coach, Vijay Ram, says you can always arrive at a decision if you give it enough time and express all your thoughts and feelings. The problem is, many people don’t even know what they’re feeling and thinking.
“Some people can’t/don’t make decisions because they are too busy over-analyzing everything,” Caleb Backe, a Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. “They analyze things to death, and are satisfied with that. They justify to themselves that they are not ignoring the problems. Quite the opposite — they are always thinking about them. But while thought is a wonderful thing, it is best coupled with an action. That jump from theoretical to practical is one which has a strong element of risk and danger in it. Some thrive on that feeling, but most of us are not ready to deal with it in many areas of our life.”
Here are a few reasons you might constantly have trouble making decisions — and some ways to deal with them.
1You've Forgotten The Larger Goal
When people don’t know what the next right course of action is, it’s often because they’ve lost sight of the larger goal that might move them toward, executive coach and emotional intelligence expert Caroline Stokes, founder of FORWARD and The Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter, tells Bustle. Before you figure out what choice you want to make, decide what your longer-term goals are, and pick the choice that fits them.
You may actually know what you want to do, but you’re letting what other people want influence you, says Stokes. If you know what you would do if other people weren’t a consideration, then you know what you want. Learn to tolerate guilt so that you won’t be people-pleasing to avoid it.
You may know what you should do but second-guess yourself because you’re not confident in your intelligence or intuition, says Stokes. Building confidence requires both knowing what you’re good at and knowing what skills you need to build so you can gain even more confidence.
Many of us obsess over making the right choice because the thought of making the wrong one is too painful for us. “This worry comes from being raised in families in which right and wrong was very important and mistakes weren’t tolerated,” psychotherapist Karen R. Koenig, MEd, LCSW tells Bustle. “Looking at how our parents made decisions when we were children will tell us a great deal about how we evolved to worry a great deal about doing the right thing. Maybe our parents were indecisive themselves and we picked up this anxiety about choices from them. Alternately, maybe they blamed themselves or each other when something went wrong.”
If this is an issue for you, remind yourself that it’s OK to make the wrong choice. All you can do is make the best choice you can with the information you have. To maximize your chances of making the best choice, Koenig recommends strategies like research, planning, and problem-solving that take place outside your mind.
In an abundance mentality, you do what you want in each moment and trust that anything else you need in the future will be there when you need it. In a lack mentality, you try to optimize every decision. You try to multitask as much as possible to save time, squeeze every penny, and count every calorie. In this mindset, every decision becomes a complicated calculation — but the one variable not being factored into the equation is what you want.
“There's a constant grasping feeling that comes along with lack that feels icky and fearful,” intuitive business coach Amber-Lee Schneider, Founder of The Chakra Girl Collective, tells Bustle. “Imagine what it would feel like to know you can have what you want when you desire it? It's a tiny mindset shift from lack to abundance that says you can buy the shirt in black today and then decide if you want it in blue next week.”
If your parents made most of your decisions for you, you may have not had much practice making decisions, marriage and family therapist Melody Li tells Bustle. You also might be letting other people make choices for you out of habit. Again, try asking yourself what you would do if nobody else were a factor to get in touch with what you want.
7Fear Of Responsibility
Some people procrastinate or avoid decisions because they don’t want to be held responsible if things go wrong, says Backe. They let other people or circumstances out of their control make the decision for them. This may prevent you from messing up, but it’ll also prevent you from controlling your own life. It’s worth making mistakes, because at least they get to be yours.
Making decisions isn’t easy for anyone, but you don’t always have to get it right. You just have to make a decision, forgive yourself for your mistakes, and learn from them.