Would you like regular, soy, oat, lactose-free, or almond milk?
How would you like your nails, round or square?
Are you going to marry Brian or…?
Did you know that every day you make an average of 35,000 decisions?
That is nearly 1,500 decisions every hour. Clearly, our days are FILLED with choices…from what to wear, to whether to pick up your phone or not, to how to drive to a new place, all the while deciding what to say back to someone in a conversation.
For someone who suffers from indecision…this creates one really challenging day.
It’s overwhelming, a decision faces you and suddenly you can’t feel anything…like a deer in headlights, you become unsure of how to escape the never-ending moment staring you down.
I get it. I have struggled for years with making decisions. Walking into a froyo shop felt like the universe’s most crucial moment. Did I want the chocolate-vanilla swirl or classic tart?…let’s not even get into the toppings…
As easy as it was to laugh at myself through these moments, it hurt deep down. Every moment felt like it was an opportunity to disappoint myself by not knowing what I wanted. Being indecisive was quickly turning from an external personality trait into who I was as a person.
Life started to hurt as a result, people in my life would become frustrated with me, I was beginning to miss out on moments in my life, analysis paralysis would set in and so much time would go by battling through my options that I wouldn’t ever actually do anything.
I hit a breaking point and knew, it was time to get serious about not being indecisive….but how?
Well like all of life’s greatest problems, it comes down to understanding the root of the problem.
I found that the root cause of indecision comes down to three reasons:
1. You’re addicted to the beautiful drug: perfectionism.
You’re afraid to be wrong. The fear of not showing up 100% correct sets in and suddenly you’re faced with over-analyzing everything. You end up being restrained from taking action until all your panties are folded into perfect squares.
But perfection isn’t real…shocker, right? And it isn’t fun. While wanting to work towards perfection can be inspiring and highly motivating, if overly prioritized it can lead to obsessiveness and inefficiency. Perfectionism can even lead to procrastination, where you suddenly afraid to fail before you even start.
Instead of focusing on results, focus on your effort. And while you do this, recognize that the decision you are faced with making isn’t the end all be all…it is only one question that will lead to others. There is always a future yes to a current no. Don’t let one wrong decision stop you from starting in the first place.
2. You’re the president of people-pleasers anonymous.
You can’t let anyone down, ever. Constantly needing to ensure that everyone around you is happy seeps into the decisions that you make throughout the day. The fear of being judged by others for making a certain choice clouds your intuition to the point that you no longer know what you actually want.
But here’s the thing, no decision you will ever choose is going to make everyone happy. Once you can begin to realize this, it can be quite freeing (in my experience). Then, you can more easily step in to make a decision that leaves you feeling content. After all, a happy you is a happy universe.
3. Your confidence is on vacation.
Let me ask you this: when you aren’t confident in yourself, how can you expect to make confident decisions?
A little over a year ago I walked into a therapist’s office fighting the largest bout of indecision I had felt in my life. My therapist handed me a book that was titled, I kid you not, Self-Esteem. Apparently, indecision is closely tied to a lack of confidence and a loss of self. Right away, I was able to decide: I wouldn’t be caught dead reading this book openly in public…it would be saved for the confines of my living room. This book was already helping me be more decisive!
In all seriousness, if you find yourself unable to make decisions because you truly “don’t know” what you want…start spending time working on believing in yourself, getting to know yourself, and learning what you, and you alone, like. I’m always reminded of Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride when she goes on that epic montage of personal growth moments and finally learns what style of eggs she actually likes.
Begin to notice which one of these potential root causes is the reason for your indecision. That’s where it all starts.
I hope you spend the rest of your day knowing exactly what you want and not feeling afraid to ask for it.
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This article first appeared on Medium.