It seems like the older I get, the harder it can be to make a decision. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m more conscientious, or that I’m noticing my perfectionist tendencies, but either way–I’ve recently noticed I don’t make decisions as quickly as I used to.
Understanding how to make a decision is the difference between being a child and an adult. I am lucky because I had a mostly easy childhood and didn’t have to make a lot of heavy decisions– there’s a tribe of people–parents, neighbors, classmates, friends + family that helped move me along to the next step.
But when do you figure it out how to make a decision on your own?
For example: I remember the moment I told my parents I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to college and that I thought I’d take a year off to explore. Their response was, “that’s nice honey, now get in your room and finish your college applications.” The decision was made for me; my parents didn’t let my fear of growing up get in the way of my progress.
Fast forward to post-college days; they were full of trial and error. Left to my own devices, some of my decisions lingered longer for the mere fact that I didn’t know what I was doing. My failed engagement sent me into a tailspin, there were a few jobs that weren’t quite the right fit for me and my ever changing address kept me on the move; decisions during this time were made a lot by trial and error.
Now as a real adult, (what is that anyway?) I recognize that each decision is a small piece of the puzzle of the life I am building. No one is pushing me along anymore. I am the creator of my own life.
And sometimes I’m afraid of making the wrong decision. Aren’t we all? But I’ve figured out a simple way to go through the decision process and not get overwhelmed. You can easily walk your way through these steps, too:
1) Weigh the options. Demistify the whole process. Are there 4 different possibilities? Write each one down and take into consideration the options they offer. When you can see the different paths broken down step-by-step, it takes the mystery (and fear) out of each one.
2) Think about the what ifs. What ifs can often bring you to a screeching halt, but to make a sound decision, you have to consider each alternative. There’s always this thought: what if I hate my decision? What if it doesn’t work? But there’s also this: What if I succeed beyond my wildest dreams? The possibilities are endless. If you hash out the most immediate ones, the options becomes more manageable.
3) Set a deadline to pull the trigger. Give yourself some room to figure things out, but give yourself a deadline of when to decide. Procrastination is the enemy of progress, especially with matters of the heart. When you allow yourself some room but also set a goal of when to reign it in, you’ll feel better about exploring.
4) Go for it. You can’t accomplish anything if you don’t make a choice. Check in with your gut and make a move. Good or bad, actually taking some steps is a positive. Things work out well? Great, you now have more confidence. Things falter a bit? Find the learning point in there and keep moving forward. And remember–it all works out in the end.