Whether you are deciding on what to wear or what next step to take in your life, making decisions can be paralyzing. What I hear most often from my clients is that they are afraid of making the wrong decision (que anxiety).
When you are stressed and distracted your focus is divided. You’re focused on thinking about what might happen. You know, the big “What if” that plaques most people when trying to make a decision. “What if” this happens? “What if” that happens. That “What if” puts you in a tail spin and it’s hard to come out.
You make decisions all day long but most of the decisions you’re making aren’t really conscious decisions. Most of the time, making a decision is based on your past, your fears, worries, and doubts. When you go to make a decision, you filter it through the past. You unconsciously compare what you know, the feelings you might have if it does or doesn’t work out the way you want it, and your memories, especially those that are emotional charged. You think you are choosing in the moment when in actuality it is your past choosing for you. This is called the Illusion of Choice.
“Since you believe the world is the way you see it and things work the way you think they do, in turn you interpret events through tainted eyes.” (iPEC COR.E Leadership Dynamics)
When you are faced with making a decision by default you have already chosen before you were ever presented with that choice. This is how allowing your past can dictate your future.
Food for thought
Think about a prior circumstance in which you believe you may have been under the illusion of choice.
Describe the situation, the choice you made and why you think you made it.
List at least one other choice you can see now that you had in the situation.
If you were making the choice today, with your new understanding, which choice would you make?
How do you make the best decisions possible? Making good decisions requires having access to as much information as you can. Stressed out and being distracted limits your access to that information. When you are stress-free and aware you can see the possibilities available to you and you are able to make conscious decisions based on the best information available to you.
A conscious decision is one that is made in the moment. Release all your past biases, fears, worries, and suspend the what ifs. Be in the moment.
What do I know?
What do I have control over?
What is out of my control?
What is the best decision I can make with the information I have?
What happens is you make a decision and then down the road you make a judgment about that decision. It was a good decision or bad decision. Do you know that saying that hindsight is 20/20? Of course, it would be easy for you to judge your past decisions as good or bad when you are looking back on it.
When you look back on your decision after the fact you are looking at it with 20/20 vision. Because when it is all said and done you have all the information that didn’t exist while you were making the decision. And yet, time and time again you will beat yourself up for making the “wrong” decision.
(As I point one finger at you, I’ve got three pointing back at myself.)
Steps to Making a Decision
1. Identify the decision
2. Gather relevant information (remember to leave out your past biases, fears, worries, and what ifs). Gather just the facts.
3. Identify all the possible solutions
4. Go down the road of each choice- 6 months from now. How do you feel about yourself and the situation with each option? Are you honoring yourself?
5. Make the decision based on the outcome from step #4
6. Take action towards the decision you selected in step #5
7. Review your decision from an objective viewpoint. Ask yourself what worked, what didn’t work, what did you like about the decision, what could be improved? This is not a step to beat yourself up over the decision. Again, think of yourself as rising over the decision and you are looking down on it objectively and giving yourself feedback. Remember in everything you do there is a lesson to be learned.
Words of Encouragement
Realize that the decisions you make are the best decisions you could make at the time given the information you had. Don’t allow fear or worries paralyze you from making a decision. Don’t allow the What ifs to stop you from stepping out and stepping up in your life. Cast aside the past and step into the present. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Ask yourself these questions:
How have I made decisions in the past?
What information did I have prior to making that decision?
How have those decisions worked out?
How do I feel about those decisions?
Looking forward, what can I do to improve how I make decisions in my life?
Do you struggle making decisions? Especially those decisions that have a huge impact on your life? Like what is the next step you take in your life? Or maybe you are trying to decide if you should leave a relationship. I would love to hear what gives you the most grief in your decision- making process. Please feel free to share in the comments below.