I’ve never really been the most decisive person. There’s a medical condition for being chronically indecisive. Aboulomania. No, I don’t have that. But indecision is not fun. Picking an outfit to wear, whether or not to take a job, what to eat?!

William James said, “There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.”

One of the pillars of self improvement is first recognising that you have a problem, and accepting that as a basic fact. No matter how small that “problem” is, it’s affecting your life one way or the other. And there are repercussions for everything. Everything is connected. One spirals into one into another and a tiny problem left untreated could cost you so so much. Some bad habits die with you, but shouldn’t have to be the cause of your death if at least you are emotionally aware of yourself, how it affects you and how it affects everyone around you. 

Being unable to make decisions sometimes stems from fear; fear of negative consequences or even fear of unexpected, possibly overwhelming success. Sometimes for me it’s plain old anxiety, and few times it’s the being stuck on the wheel of perfectionism. As a creative I get stuck on one thing. It’s never done. And I never move on. Or past it.

Unfortunately we also live in a world with amazingly overwhelming options. Have you tried to switch from a beauty product brand that got discontinued? Lunch menus are getting longer and longer. We end up spending so much time thinking of things that shouldn’t really matter. 

We may not be able to change our whole lives in a jiffy, but we can credit ourselves for the effort. Here’s few ways you can work on indecisiveness if it affects you.

1. Face your fears, visualise outcomes

If you can’t arrive at a decision, it’s possible you’re afraid of something. Figure out what it is and note it down. Ask yourself what you will do if your worst fear comes to pass. Is it truly possible? If so, how will you move forward? Instead of being paralysed by fear, make a contingency plan, then keep moving. Are you operating from a place of feelings or fact? 

Many people who have trouble making decisions also tend to over-analyse. At some point, no matter how much information you have, or and all the logic you have applied, the decision doesn’t get any easier.

Put a time limit on your pondering and list-making. Then ask yourself: 

“Which would do me the most good: A or B?” Rate your responses and just go with your gut already.

2. Practice

Start by making little, semi important decisions daily. Everyday, shoot for at least 7 decisions. Decide on what you’re going to have for lunch, which line at the supermarket you’ll stay on, what route you are taking to work. Go to your favourite store and make one small purchase without thinking about the choice. As little things come up during the day, use it to practice making quicker decisions. It’s like a muscle. With time you find that you’re more sure of yourself, and you’ve built confidence. 

3. Believe in yourself

Maybe you’re a last born or a middle child and you weren’t given a lot of decision making responsibilities, Or you somehow have made a lot of bad decisions in your young years so you don’t trust yourself anymore. 

Let’s try this; what are your strengths? Write them out. Are you smart? Creative? Funny? Logical? Strict?  Incorporate these strengths into your decision-making process. If you are a creative, you can make  collages to represent the myriad choices in front of you. Your strengths will also be what will help you achieve what you set out to do, once you’ve made a choice.

You have to accept that you’re good enough, and you’re strong enough, and you’ll survive whatever the outcome is.

4. Decisions are reversible. 

Ask yourself ‘Will this matter 5 years from now?’ Sometimes, decisions may seem much bigger than they actually are. If you’re struggling with a new car purchase, will it really matter 5 years from now which car you chose? Maybe you be upgrading to a newer model or another brand entirely 4 years later! Will it matter?

The answer is usually “No”, but even when it’s a yes, remind yourself that a lot of decisions are reversible. The effects will be lessons, but you don’t have to stay on one path forever. And this is where flexibility has to come into your life. Don’t be ashamed of making a mistake to the point you stand by it or die on it!

5. Stop trying to please anyone.

Sometimes paralyses of decision can come from considering too many factors sadly including people’s opinions. Or the effect of that decision on other people’s decisions. If they are stakeholders, you can do a quick check of running it by them. If they are not stakeholders in your life, or as the streets say, if they are not “feeding, clothing, or loving up on you” why do they matter to you so much that you let them indirectly control your life? I have come to realise half of the people we give this power to don’t even know they have the power and don’t care what you do with your life. Make your decisions and if anyone who doesn’t matter stresses you about it, or brings negativity into your space, throw them into a pit latrine.

Life is too short to move at a slow pace. Anxiety is too little to put your life in a time warp.

Live, happily, and to the fullest!

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