I’ve never been one to make and stick to a decision – just ask the baristas at my local coffee shop. I struggle to pick clothes, choose dinners; select one thing on a menu. My indecisiveness over small decisions has affected my ability to select life and career choices.
Before becoming a writer, my career felt unfulfilling. Not knowing what to do next, I spent a year feeling stuck. It took some time for me to make a decision; mostly due to fear.
Why we fear making decisions
Many people dislike the uncomfortableness that comes with change. They purposely avoid the unknown. Sometimes this is linked to anxiety, low self-esteem and decidophobia; an irrational fear over decision-making. More often than not, we don’t always trust ourselves to choose well.
Reading the book, ‘How Emotions Are Made’ by Lisa Feldman Barrett, I realised how much I had trained my brain to believe negative beliefs. Despite my achievements, I continually told myself ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’; ‘I’m not good enough’. I’ve been unable to instantly pick a coffee or buy a dress, not because I’m scared it will be wrong – I’m convinced I don’t have the capability to make good choices.
If you can relate to that, then your struggle to make and stick to a decision requires you to challenge your belief system. On publication Inc., they recommend actively doing what you believe you’re bad at. If you’re convinced, you’re terrible at networking for example, try to attend more networking events. Set yourself a task of meeting at least one new person each month and then following up with said person. Additionally, allocate time to learning networking skills. Really question where your beliefs have stemmed from.
Have you had enough experience and training to back-up a negative thought? Is your insecurity around something linked to a memory from childhood? If your beliefs have been influenced by the negative words of others – are those people qualified in their opinions? Do they speak for everyone? And importantly, can’t all beliefs adjust? Are you holding on to a belief that’s no longer true?
How to confidently make decisions
Both in career and life, you’ll arguably gain greater reward and success when you make your decisions with confidence. By making insecure decisions, you’ll likely waste time going back-and-forth – perhaps even unconsciously sabotaging what you agreed upon.
Accept there is no such thing as a bad decision. Not making a decision is in itself a decision to stay stuck. By not doing anything, you’re choosing to not progress or move forward. At least if you make a choice that you feel unsatisfied with, you’ll still gain knowledge you didn’t have prior to that decision, which will help you to choose better next time. Plus, you can then continue to move forward and find new options.
Stop worrying about failure. Didn’t you hate when you failed a maths tests in school (just me?). Everyone would go round sharing their results and you could merely hope someone else had also failed. Someone to share the burden. The reality is, while we grow up wanting to forever achieve high grades and receive immaculate teacher appraisals, failure has many benefits. Creatively, it’s a necessity. Innovation happens when people research, question, challenge and relearn from past so-called mistakes.
Jot down pros and cons. When in doubt, go back to basics. A pros and cons list can help you look at facts and statistics clearly.
See if you can experience it first. On the podcast ‘The School of Self Image’, host Tonya Leigh, says you should try something first to know how you feel. When I was considering my next career move after makeup, part of me thought about writing. I liked the idea of writing articles and sharing my opinions with a readership, but I had no experience or qualifications. I created a blog for free to trial the decision before committing to anything permanently.
Focus on the 10-10-10 method. On publication Success, they share the advice of David Ciccarelli; ‘Ask yourself if you will be pleased with your decision 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years from now’.
Make and stick to a decision
Brave Thinking Institute, (BTI) describe how some people ‘create their lives’ while others live by ‘their circumstances’. BTI note that how you’re living currently may be entirely different to how you dream of living. So, the thoughts you have presently can equally be different to the thoughts you aim to have.
For example, if you’re someone who feels great things don’t often happen to you and more often than not, you don’t get what you want, this can impact whether you follow through. When sticking to a decision, try to separate any self-doubt from your overall goal. You cannot dream big with small thoughts.
There’s a difference between recognising a current plan needs adjusting to improve, and giving up or changing a decision because you’ve stopped trusting your ability.
To make and stick to a decision, remember to plan for now as well the future, question your self-beliefs and be aware of both potential successes and failures.
Read next: The Impact of Perception in the Workplace