how to survive as an indecisive decision-maker

Find the word “indecisive” in the dictionary, and my name’s likely there. I am quite an indecisive person in a world requiring constant decisions. As you might assume, I get quite flustered by choices both insignificant and monumental. I’m chock-full of opinions on any issue you throw my way, but if it’s a decision in my own life…I’ve got problems.

Should I excuse myself from this anxiety-inducing situation? What’s for supper today? Where should I look for an adult, full-time job?

These aren’t all on the same plane, that’s for sure. However, as an indecisive decision-maker, they all seem to carry a tremendous weight. What if “bad things” happened? My anxiety will fill in the blanks.

Since we cannot lead our lives without deciding whatever next step there is to take, big or small, we all need to put on our adult underpants and just choose. Does it feel easy? Not by a long shot. But this indecisive decision-maker has a few tricks up her sleeve.

don’t dwell on it.

If you’re a chronic overthinker like me, it’s no wonder you’re an indecisive decision-maker. The longer time you have to sit on a choice, the more likely it is to cause issues.

While I don’t follow this rule religiously, I think the sentiment rings true: make every decision in five seconds. I remember as a kid thinking I’d never be able to swallow pills because whenever I had tried before, I took over an hour to will myself to try. Well, no wonder I couldn’t do it: I was self-sabotaging to the point of literally choking.

Certain decisions require time. Don’t dismiss the gravity of choices that could have enduring repercussions. But for the stuff that really doesn’t matter, the less time you dwell on it, the better off you’ll be. Rip off the Band-Aid before your indecisive brain knows what it’s doing.

make it 50-50.

This tip is huge for me. I truly wouldn’t make any decisions without doing this to some degree.

For any choice to make, first narrow it down to two options. Then you go for it. One of the biggest problems for indecisive decision-makers is that we get overwhelmed with all the options. If life were only picking meals off a restaurant menu, I’d be screwed. I’m the one always standing awkwardly half-in line, half-not, dazed and confused by the concept of picking one thing from a sea of possibilities.

Try this for yourself and when other people are giving you options. If someone else can do the hard work of turning many options into two, then you’re more than capable of making the final judgment. It’s much easier to juggle two balls than three or more.

A lot more situations are 50-50 than you realize. Do I make the phone call, or no? Is that trendy new bag worth the splurge, or no? Should I watch another episode of The Sopranos, or actually do something productive? An indecisive decision-maker cannot argue that these scenarios are pretty simple.

really…what’s the worst that could happen?

Yes, I’m asking anxiety’s favorite question. Indecisive decision-makers have already pondered the answers a million times over. We can illustrate fantastical tales of woe for ourselves, all from just one poor choice.

Logically, we know life wouldn’t crumble upon one bad decision. Convincing ourselves of that is another matter. So, let me the reassuring voice of reason. Everything will be okay.

Really. Seriously. I mean it. If you’ve made it this far in life, why would that streak change? Life has this amazing quality of impermanence. In the case of decision-making, that means no matter which path you could down, you can always move forward and find solutions. The answers aren’t always straightforward, but nothing you do can ruin everything.

Allow yourself to think of the worst-case scenario. Then ask yourself, “How likely could this happen? What could I do if it, in fact, happened?” You’re probably more prepared than you realize. And if not, you can be. Indecision isolates you in a scary mental landscape. Once you take yourself back to the present moment, remember that you’re safe, secure, and not defined by potential failure or poor decision-making.

get the best of both worlds.

This isn’t always possible, but if it is, indecisive decision-makers rejoice. That one commercial with people fighting over hard-shell or soft-shell tacos, only to end with a kid asking, “Why not both?” Here’s your chance to be the kid who saves Taco Tuesday.

When life hands us all the options, look in the grey area. Between the lines, there’s likely ways you can be creative and “customize” your decision. In conflict-resolution terms, a compromise.

I myself, the queen of indecision, have been considering exactly that. The big question of what to do with my life upon college graduation was so scary to me, I put it off by volunteering in American Samoa for a year. If that isn’t the definition of “procrastination,” then I don’t know what is.

Now that I’m coming toward the end of my service, I’ve decided to pursue further education, but here’s the dilemma: which school, in which location? Once left with two options, I was stuck between choosing my preferred graduate program and my preferred place to live for the next few years.

So, I asked, “Why not both?” Why not pursue the ideal graduate program online, traveling to campus when necessary, and live where I really see myself thriving? Perhaps it’s not the most “practical” way to trudge forward, but at the end of all, what makes you happy is most important.

what makes me happy?

Since I mentioned it…this question can feel more daunting than all the decisions I’ve been referring to. At the root of every decision, your happiness remains. It’s the root of everything we humans are doing in our short existences. The right decisions lead us there.

Indecisive decision-makers, before you read that and start panicking, try taking on another perspective. You’re so blessed and privileged to have decisions to make. You have the opportunity to use your life in incredible ways. People may have some pull, but it’s ultimately all for you. Not everyone on the planet can say that.

Reframe decisions with gratitude. Thank you, God, for granting me the freedom to choose. How beautiful it is to be alive, independent of many oppressions plaguing fellow humanity, and decide where I land my feet.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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