If you have difficulty making decisions confidently, you may find the following guidelines for combatting indecisiveness helpful:
Use larger goals or your own values as your compass: Oftentimes we are indecisive because we are facing a decision with lots of factors to weigh. Often, the most effective factor in decision making is what will be most helpful for one of our life goals, or what choice is more consistent with our values.
Consider the long-term benefits in addition to shorter-term considerations: If you find you’ve made a lot of decisions that didn’t work out, consider whether you were making decisions based on short-term tradeoffs. Oftentimes what is easier or less work in the short-term is not terribly effective in the long-term. It is often these decisions that we look back on with regret.
Reframe your effort as an investment instead of an inconvenience: Most people tend to err on the side of what requires less effort up front. This is because we sometimes view expending a lot of effort as a negative consequence in and of itself. If we can learn to see effort as an investment in the service of a positive consequence, we may not be as quick to shy away from it when making a decision.
End Analysis Paralysis: Certainty is more uncomfortable than uncertainty. Consequently, some people gather a lot of information when faced with a choice, with the assumption that more information will provide more certainty. Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t work this way. More typically we end up with so much information that we are overwhelmed, unable to process it all. Instead of gathering too much information, determine how much information is enough or what you absolutely need to know, then weigh the pros and cons once you have the information you really need.
Learn to love uncertainty: Uncertainty is okay. Were it not for uncertainty life would be quite dull. Instead of waiting for every doubt you have to be vanquished before acting, act… and bring the doubts along for the ride.
Consider the cost of not making a decision: Remind yourself what you may be missing out on or what emotional turmoil you may be having to endure by not acting. This perspective may be enough for you to decide the indecision isn’t worth it.
Accept mistakes: Sometimes people are paralyzed when faced with a choice because they are averse to making any kind of mistake, no matter how small. Paradoxically, the more people aim for perfection, the further they get from it, finding themselves paralyzed. Recognize that every choice will have a downside, and learn to accept that reality. Acceptance can be a very powerful way of dealing with difficult situations. Furthermore, if you can learn from your mistakes you will be less likely to repeat them in the future.
These cognitive strategies come from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a problem solving therapy that can help people with indecisiveness. It is not uncommon for people struggling with anxiety or depression to have problems with decision making. Click here for more information about how cognitive behavioral therapy may help you.
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