Decision-making can be a difficult task, especially when we are unsure of the outcome. But being a decisive person doesn’t come as easily to some as it may to others.
You can think of decision-making as a task to be learned if you’re someone that tends to struggle with it.
The trouble with making decisions doesn’t always have to be about the big things. When we find it difficult to make decisions throughout the day, it can take up a lot of our time that could be spent doing more of the things we enjoy.
For example, you wake up in the morning with no idea of what to make for breakfast. Instead of making a quick, snap decision on waffles, you spend so much time pondering over it that you’re almost late for work, and so you leave without eating anything.
Knowing how to make a decision is an essential skill to have. It can help you feel confident and be more in control of your life.
So, if you are wondering how to be more decisive and become someone who doesn’t spend their day considering and reconsidering every little thing then read on for essential tips to help you.
First, let’s take a look at what factors might make it challenging for us to make a decision.
What makes a person indecisive?
Much decision aversion comes from a fear of the unknown. We worry that we might decide wrong and leave ourselves in a worse situation. We feel afraid to act because the outcome is outside of our range of control.
This uncertainty can cause a lot of anxiety and, over time, can lead to decision avoidance.
This behavior happens when someone avoids making decisions because of the lingering mental effect the outcomes might have on them. Decision avoidance includes postponing, failing to act, or accepting the status quo rather than choosing for themselves.
There is also the matter of having too much to decide on and initially shutting down when it comes to making decisions. This is also known as decision fatigue.
What is decision fatigue?
Decision fatigue can occur to someone who is required to make decisions daily. Too many acts of having to choose can break them down over the course of the day, which results in that person being unable to correctly make decisions any further.
Decision fatigue can lead to decision avoidance in the long term.
One way to avoid decision fatigue is to give yourself less to decide on, therefore eliminating more minor decisions daily.
Eliminate small decisions from your life
Remember, not all decisions are big decisions, but even the smaller ones can stress us out. Therefore, it is critical to address these small decisions as they come to us.
These more minor decisions can help us feel more confident in making big ones.
Here are some ways to help combat decision fatigue:
Having a lot of food choices isn’t always a bad thing. But deciding on what to cook or eat for dinner when there are so many delicious options can be a source of stress.
If you’re having trouble deciding what to eat, try prepping a container of food the night before. You can also invest in a meal kit delivery service to help you make quicker decisions about what to make since they are pre-packaged with ingredients.
Simplify your wardrobe
You may have heard of capsule wardrobes before or a “mini” wardrobe that consists of versatile pieces. Capsule wardrobes are becoming more popular because of their minimalist approach to collecting clothes that you can wear throughout the seasons.
Additionally, you may find it helpful to periodically go through your closet and donate anything you haven’t worn.
It’s a good rule of thumb that if you haven’t touched it since the last season or two, that you probably won’t wear it again (i.e., a sweater that you got during the wintertime a couple of years ago). Likely, you won’t wear it this year, either.
Again, it’s a commonly known thought that having less gives you less to decide over.
If you find yourself constantly rearranging your abundant DVD collection in your entertainment system, try putting the discs in a flipbook, so you don’t have to organize them over and over.
Similarly, the same can be said for anything that you have too much of, such as tupperware containers, magazines on your living room table, spices, perfume, makeup, tools, etc.
When you have less of something, you can be more decisive about what you want to do with them and spend less time cleaning and organizing them.
How to be more decisive in your everyday life
Being paralyzed by decisions can be difficult.
Many talk about decisiveness as if some people just have it while others don’t. The truth is, being able to quickly make decisions is generally a learned trait.
Over time, we may develop bad habits that cause us to be less decisive, but that doesn’t mean we can’t attempt to reverse some of that uncertainty we feel.
Here are some additional tips on how to be more decisive:
1. Take your time
It’s easy to feel rushed to make snap decisions when you are facing an abundance of options.
Maybe your anxiety tells you that you need to go ahead and get it over with because, either way, the outcome will be less than satisfactory. Or, maybe you feel pressured by others to hurry up and decide because they need you to make a choice for one reason or another.
Understand that it’s okay to take a little bit of time to decide, especially if the decision is a big one. Just don’t let yourself procrastinate for so long that you’ve missed out on a good decision or outcome purely because you made no decision at all!
2. Make small decisions first
Making smaller choices first can give you the confidence to make the big decisions later.
Once you get the small, less important decisions out of the way, such as having that capsule wardrobe that eliminates the amount of time you spend deciding on the perfect outfit for work tomorrow, you’re able to focus on your more important tasks.
3. Remove any distractions
Sometimes decision avoidance can stem from having other pressing things to think about.
For example, suppose you’re tasked with making a decision for your job but find yourself scrolling on your phone to read about the latest celebrity breakup. In that case, you’re likely using the news as a distraction from how making a decision will make you feel.
Try to stay away from your cell phone, the tv, or any other devices that might stop or slow down your decision-making process.
4. Avoid striving for perfectionism
Uncertainty and perfectionism often keep us from making decisions.
There is no way to know the outcome before we make it, and that’s something that we have to come to terms with before we can master the art of decisiveness.
Sometimes our best is simply that, an attempt at doing something and succeeding. Even if it wasn’t a 10 out of 10 performance or result, the fact that we accomplished it can be enough.
Acknowledge that uncertainty exists and that there isn’t much we can do about it other than combating our fear of inadequacy and being judged by our peers.
5. Don’t worry about what others think
Additionally, it’s important to remove others and their opinions when making decisions. When we worry too much about outside influences rather than our own opinions or thoughts, it becomes harder to make decisions that truly benefit ourselves.
For example, maybe you find yourself getting anxious at the thought of choosing the restaurant for your birthday dinner. Why? Because you’re afraid, your picky-eater friend won’t find anything on the menu that they like. In turn, a bad choice might lead to them complaining about your decision.
However, if it’s your choice, and consequentially, it doesn’t hurt anyone, then don’t be afraid to make it. It can be difficult when we take in too many opinions from others or when we want to achieve peace for another’s sake.
Try to eliminate the thoughts of others from your mind until you’ve made a decision for yourself.
6. Break down your decisions
Sometimes it helps to break down a decision into smaller moving parts. You can do this by weighing the pros and cons of each choice or making smaller choices and using those outcomes to influence the rest of your options.
This is a great way to reduce risk, particularly in business, because you’re trying out less important options whose results won’t make or break the big one.
Breaking down your thought process is also helpful for strengthening your decision-making muscle!
7. Visualize the outcome
Visualization is a great technique that can help with making decisions with more confidence. Try going through all of your options and thinking through what could happen for each.
This can lower your anxiety by helping you think concretely about some of the possible outcomes and make it easier to conclude.
If you enjoy writing, you can also try doing this exercise on paper. Make a mind map or physically write out all of your options and what may or may not happen if you were to make one decision vs. another. This can expedite the process and make you more confident about the path you take.
8. Talk to a trusted friend or mentor
Lastly, it can be incredibly helpful to reach out to someone you trust who seems to make decisions with ease. It’s okay not to have all of the answers. Remember, this is a learning process, after all!
You can take some tips from them and implement one or two of their strategies as a way to overcome your fear of making decisions. You can also try asking for advice about over-analyzing, decision fatigue, or any other worries or hurdles you have during the decision-making process.
Learning how to be more decisive is like any other muscle that needs to be trained. You have to take ample time and be patient with yourself if you struggle with decision-making, as it’s certainly a learning process, but it’s not a skill that can’t be perfected!
In life, we have a lot of decisions to make. With so many choices that we don’t know the outcome of until we make them, we can feel less confident about choosing. In the long term, it can lead to decision avoidance and fatigue and make us find ways to avoid the act of choosing altogether.
Remember that no one is perfect, and not all decisions will lead to bad endings!
Rather than becoming a person that avoids decisiveness like the plague, we can work on our skills by breaking down our problems into smaller ones, eliminating time-consuming tasks such as picking out our clothes and mastering the ability to think clearly and with confidence.