Does it sometimes seem like you’re the only one who doesn’t know how to make decisions? When you’re not confident about making a decision in life, it’s tempting to just avoid them altogether. Perhaps you’ve become indecisive after a recent traumatic event, or maybe you’ve always lived in fear of doing the wrong thing. Regardless of the root of your indecisiveness, you probably feel frustrated and powerless. But what can you do to make things better and how can you stop being indecisive?
The good news is that there is a whole field of study devoted to the psychology of indecision, and it is possible to learn not just how to make decisions quickly, but also how to make the right decisions. This guide to indecisiveness explores how this way of thinking develops and impacts on your life, then presents five things you can do right now, today, to stop being indecisive.
The Psychology Of Indecision
Research into the psychology of indecision shows universally negative effects, with indecisiveness limiting your success in everything from your career to your romantic relationships. In addition, indecision psychology indicates there are diverse causes. So, what causes indecisiveness in you may not be the same thing that triggers someone else. However, there are certain key things that commonly impact on whether you’ve learned how to make good decisions. In particular:
- You may be trying to please people. You might think that if you let others get their own way, they’ll like you more. If you get into the habit of letting everyone else go first when it comes to making a decision, you can almost lose the ability to make your own choices.
- After a slew of bad choices leaves you disappointed, you can lose faith in your own judgement.
- Modern society presents plentiful options. Whenever you want to decide what to eat for dinner, where to go on holiday or what jacket to buy, you’re bombarded by potential outcomes. Working out how to make up your mind can be that much harder when you’re overwhelmed in this way.
How To Make Decisions
Now that we’ve considered some of the basic contributing factors, let’s take a closer look at how to stop being indecisive. We’ll focus on five particularly straightforward but powerful techniques you can use when learning how to make good decisions in life. They all get more effective with practice, though you will typically start seeing results straight away.
However, it’s also worth noting that therapy can be useful in conjunction with these exercises, especially if you suspect that an underlying mental health issue (such as generalised anxiety disorder) might be playing a role for you.
5 Ways To Stop Being Indecisive
1. Tune Into Your Emotions
As an indecisive person, one of the first things you need to do is stop over-analysing. This tendency comes from the fact you don’t trust your gut. Consequently, if you work on tuning into your emotions more accurately, you’ll develop finely honed intuitions that help you make choices without over-analysing.
Whether you’re looking to learn how to stop being indecisive in relationships with others or are thinking more about your wider life choices, being more emotionally aware can help a great deal.
Of course, this may sound good in theory, but how do you reliably put it into practice?
- Try time-limiting your decisions. For example, make a list of your options then let your gut tell you how to rate them from 1 to 10. Go with the highest rated choice, and notice how often this is right.
- Prove the worth of your intuitions by making a list of five times in life when your gut was right.
- Cultivate generally broader self-knowledge by keeping a daily journal and reflecting on your emotions. Even just a page a day can help you tap into reflective and intuitive capacities that have been dormant or that you’ve ignored.
2. Learn To Trust Yourself
Pushing past a life of indecisiveness isn’t just about trusting your emotions. It’s also about finding your unique strengths and then figuring out how you can use those to help the decision-making process.
If you’re like most people who struggle with indecision, you might find it hard to inventory your strengths. After all, indecisiveness often comes with generally low self-esteem or wider insecurities.
Try to list at least five strengths you think you have, though if you can identify more then feel free to make the list as long as you can. When you find it difficult, think of the strengths others have highlighted. Are you particularly creative, or do you have a way with words? Perhaps you’ve always had top grades at school.
Alternatively, maybe you’re praised for your sense of humor or your optimism.
Next, think of at least one way that each strength could be used to facilitate better decision-making. For example, optimism can be used to convince yourself that you can survive any outcome of a decision. Meanwhile, you might use your creativity to draw or design a collage of pictures when you’re next struggling to make a choice.
3. Visualize Possible Outcomes
When figuring out how to make difficult life decisions, visualisation takes you closer to the reality of the different choices. This, in turn, can make the right choice much clearer. It can also offer some much-needed reassurance that a decision isn’t as significant or foreboding as you previously thought.
If you already have some experience with visualisation (e.g. through mindfulness meditations or Law of Attraction work), you’ll find this technique very easy.
However, even if you’re totally new to visualisation, you can pick it up quickly. Simply close your eyes and breathe deeply until you feel relaxed. Then, use the power of your imagination to embed yourself in all the possible choices before you. Notice how you feel in each scenario.
If creative visualisation really doesn’t work for you or you just don’t like it, there are other approaches. Drawing a mind map is another way of visualising decisions, just in a more linear and logical way. You can use different coloured pens and symbols to illustrate all the pros and cons of each choice. This process can really help you to make sense of information that has been racing around your head. Be careful, though, that this doesn’t collapse into over-analysing.
4. Take Your Time
While we have considered reasons why you should sometimes set a time limit when making decisions, there are some cases where more time is better.
In particular, compelling new psychological research shows that if you take a short break from thinking about a choice, you can end up making a better decision. We can sometimes get trapped in paranoia about having to make a decision now, and this can create anxiety. The anxiety, in turn, makes it almost impossible to zero in on a choice. When you have the sense this might be happening to you, put it all aside for a while.
It’s good to give some thought to how you’ll spend your time when taking a break from decision-making. For example, it’s no good if you just go straight to another stressful task, keeping your anxiety high. Instead, think about something simple and pleasurable that you can do.
Some people find that a walk does the trick, while others immerse themselves in a favourite book or do some exercise. Experiment with different activities and see which seem to make decision-making easier for you. This is all about finding things that make you feel genuinely relaxed, clear-headed and confident.
5. Take Action
When moving on from an indecisive lifestyle it’s important to remember that you can learn what works, and also learn from mistakes.
Firstly, don’t become indecisive about the process of battling indecision! Learning what works for you is a process of trial and error that relies on a willingness to experiment. It’s only when you attempt different techniques, like the ones above, that you’ll be able to assess what pushes you towards better, more effective decision-making.
Secondly, try to make a habit of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone more generally. Take action in all areas of life, safe in the knowledge that you can make something good out of every possible outcome. Even when things don’t turn out as you’d expected or would have liked, this provides fertile terrain for learning. Often, it is the lessons we learn from apparent mistakes that end up leading us to a better life further down the road. Start small, and slowly allow yourself to become more adept at trying new things. Proving your own versatility, resilience, and adaptability is one of the best ways to show you that indecision is not necessary. You have the power to handle whatever comes your way.