Today, I coached 5 beautiful clients—and every single one of them brought up feeling stuck around making decisions. Obviously I knew tonight’s blog post needed to be about indecision.
Tonight I want to address 3 important questions under the indecision umbrella:
Why do we struggle to make decisions//why do we tell ourselves we don’t know what we want or what we think we should do?
Why do we second guess and sometimes abandon our decisions after we’ve made them?
How can we become decisive people who make decisions and commit to them?
1. Why we struggle to make decisions:
I truly believe we struggle to make decisions because we tell ourselves that we struggle to make decisions. And why do we hang onto this story? Because we’re afraid. I could just leave it at that but of course I won’t leave you with that deeply dissatisfying answer. A decision is a risk. The most ancient part of our brains is hardwired to avoid risks at all costs. A huge block I see in many of my clients is the fear that they might be making the “wrong“ decision. That fear is evolutionarily programmed into us, but today it isn’t keeping us alive—it is keeping us stuck. We all have this fear in common.
We choose (albeit unconsciously) to spin around and around in confusion, considering our options, making pros & cons lists, weighing other peoples’ opinions, and taking personality tests instead of making a decision and committing to it. We do this because we believe that we don’t know what to pick, that we don’t know the “right“ choice, and that we might be screwing ourselves over if we choose wrong.
But who determines that? Who determines if a decision was right or wrong? WE DO. By the thoughts we choose to think about that decision. We could decide that we know how to make a decision for ourselves, we could make the decision, and then we could have our own backs throughout the whole process, never making anything that happens mean that we weren’t capable of making that decision or turning the outcome into something amazing. Soothe the fear of making a decision.
2. Why we second guess and sometimes abandon our decisions after we’ve made them:
If you guessed “fear“, you’re right. It’s self doubt and a lack of self-trust, it’s fear that we chose wrong and that the other option would have worked out better. Sometimes we start down one path, it doesn’t unfold exactly the way we wanted it to, and we make that mean that we’ve made a huge mistake and that we should turn back now. We hit one roadblock and immediately think that the grass is way greener on the other side of the street. What if you could trust yourself in this moment, though, instead of crumbling under any amount of pressure or impatience? What if you sat through the discomfort that is committing and sticking to a decision, and asked yourself what the next best thing to do was in that moment (and no, I don’t mean abandon ship and pick a new point of focus)? If we’re constantly choosing new paths to go down, turning around after just a few steps, we end up at the starting point over and over again. But if we choose and commit to one path and we don’t turn back even when we have the urge to, we’ll get wayyyyy farther along on that path with much more to show for our time and effort than if we kept second guessing ourselves every
Commitment: try it.
3. How can we become decisive people who make decisions and commit to them?
So you want to give commitment a try. But how? If our reptilian brain is trying to keep us safe by telling us to run, to change course, to always be looking for reasons to abort the mission and “keep us safe“ by eliminating the risk of a firmly made decision, how do we work against that?
For starters, we have to calm down. We have to really take a moment to recognize all the ways in which we will be okay if our decision doesn’t pan out *precisely* the way we’d like it to. There are infinite possibilities always. That’s the universe we live in. Our tiny human brains can’t comprehend all of the ways in which what we want will come to us. We have to give our brains evidence to focus on that supports the idea that we can figure things out, we can thrive in uncertainty and in change, we can be resourceful and creative whenever we need to be. If we can soothe our brain’s fear of decision-making by feeding it proof that we are inherently safe because we know we can take care of ourselves, we will be better equipped to make and commit to decisions that will advance us in our lives.
Next, do it scared. Trying to attain fearlessness could take a lifetime—let’s just decide to make our move even though we’re scared. Feeling fear in the face of making a decision and committing to it doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong, it doesn’t mean that we’ve made a mistake, it doesn’t mean that we’re doomed—it literally just means that we did something that our brain is programmed to feel fear and uncertainty around. That would be like if we felt terror whenever our desk clock beeped at the top of the hour. The clock beeps at the top of the hour. Our brains freak out when we make decisions—that’s just what these things do. We can keep on living our lives anyways.