Unmade decisions are mental clutter that can be cleared with amazing results. The power of making a decision can positively affect many areas of your life such as health, finances, career, and relationships. Improve your decision making and improve your life!
It blew my mind when I discovered how having unmade decisions can cause problems with productivity, sleep, concentration, and overall feelings of well-being. Even ONE unmade decision can be enough to throw you off track or keep you feeling stuck.
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I recently watched the Big Bang Theory. In that episode, Sheldon used the roll of the dice to make all his decisions to save time. The smartest character on TV knows that decisions can eat up a lot of time!
I am not advising his method! For better or worse, we’re in charge of making our own decisions and choosing the amount of time we spend on them.
What is holding you back from making decisions?
You Genuinely Aren’t Sure What to Do
Sometimes you really do just need a little more time or a little more information. This is a possibility. But if a decision has been weighing on your mind for a long time, then it’s time to look at some other reasons you are putting off making a decision.
You are Afraid to Let Go of Other Possibilities
Making a decision is a commitment to one choice. That means that other possibilities must be discarded. Sometimes that is difficult! To make a decision—we have to choose to commit to something and to let something else go.
When we’re stuck trying to make a decision, we can worry obsessively about what we will be giving up if we choose one thing over another.
So to avoid having to choose one thing over another and possibly losing the unchosen, we avoid making a decision. The irony is that we don’t end up with either one! Keeping both possibilities active in your mind without choosing one, keeps you stuck.
I’ve seen people avoid improving so many aspects of their life: career, education, home improvements, health care, or even going on vacations, because they won’t make a decision and let go of some possibilities.
To improve your decision making, you have to be willing to let go of some possibilities to move forward.
You Already Know the Answer (But You Don’t Like It)
Sometimes not making a decision IS a decision. I’ve discovered often when I can’t make a decision about something; that decision is actually a NO. But it’s a no that I don’t want to openly address. When I become aware of that, then I’m in a better place to make that decision.
While, not making a decision might seem like it’s as good as saying “no,” it’s not. Because until you make that decision and state it, it’s still in your energy field and affecting different areas of your life.
An example of this is when someone asks me to do something and I really don’t want to do it but instead of saying “no” I don’t say anything or I give vague answers about finding time or having to do something else first.
Pay attention to the clues about the decision you want to make. If you already know what you want to decide—it’s time to look at why you aren’t willing to make that decision. To improve your decision making, you have to be willing to speak YOUR truth.
The Decision That’s Right for You Might Hurt Someone Else
This is a tough one. And when I say hurt, I don’t mean physically hurt someone, but that the decision that’s best for you may hurt someone emotionally or inconvenience them. As a long-time people pleaser, this has kept me from making decisions in my best interest more times than I care to count.
Examples of this are the decisions we make to stay in relationships past their point of being good for us, staying in jobs that no longer serve us, or decisions about how much time we spend with someone.
If we look at this seriously, It’s ridiculous how much we will hurt ourselves to prevent hurting someone else. It’s crazy and crazy-making. As a college advisor/career counselor, I have seen people give up on their own dreams and desires for the sole reason to please someone else. To keep another person from feeling temporarily uncomfortable; people derail their own lives, sometimes for not only years but decades!!!!
But the world deserves us at our best and our best does not come from making decisions that protect another’s emotions at the expense of our physical and mental health. When we stay in situations where we sacrifice our well-being to shield someone else from being uncomfortable, our own health and life can suffer tremendously.
We’re Afraid of Making the Wrong Choice
This is huge! The fear of making a bad or wrong choice will keep us from making a decision. We’re afraid of the consequences, so we refrain from making a decision or we keep giving ourselves indefinite amounts of time before we decide.
But not making a decision often has consequences as well. At least if you make your decision and commit, you won’t feel like you just let life happen to you.
There’s a quote out there, “There’s no failure, just feedback.” If you can reframe your belief that a decision may result in failure and instead think that making a decision will give you more information, you will feel freer to chose.
Also, give yourself permission to decide something else if you come up with something better. You can change your mind at anytime with the addition of new information. To improve your decision making, you have to be willing to let go of the idea of failure and know you can course correct at any time.
We Don’t Feel Like We Can Make a Decision by Ourselves
We’ve all done it. We ask people what we should do to avoid making our own decision. We call friends, we post on social media, we meet for drinks or coffee. We like to discuss our potential decisions with other people and get their opinions on…what is best for us.
How often do you turn to friends, your partner, or family to help with decisions you need to make?
We freely give our power away just to avoid the responsibility of making our own decision!
I believe that every thing you need to make a decision is within you. It’s not in your family, your friends, or Google. If you can address the reasons you are holding back from making a decision, then you start making more, better, and stronger decisions.
How to Claim Your Power and Start Making Decisions
Start speaking up! Where do YOU want to eat? What do YOU want to do? What choice is best for YOU?
Get comfortable with the ambiguity that comes from the unknown outcome. Here’s the really cool thing. By making your own decisions you will begin to reduce the likelihood that the outcome will be undesirable.
Did you read that?
And that means you are more likely to get your preferred results.
Making a decision and committing to it is powerful stuff. This is about you beginning to trust your ability to make a decision that is in line with your internal compass.
I’ve had to learn to make decisions for myself and by myself. And I absolutely have hated this at times! Just this week, I found myself wanting to have someone else figure out what to do.
But because I was writing this and I knew the unmade decision in my mind was really bothering me, I decided to make my decision and commit to it 100%. So, I did. And I really don’t know how it will turn out. I do know, that clearing it off my internal “to-do” list has not only helped reduce my anxiety but it allowed me to move forward in other areas of my life.
This unmade decision was taking up a lot of mental energy. By deciding, committing, and acting on it, I cleared it. And this unmade decision, that was giving me such an internal hard time—is a non-issue now.
Improve Your Decision Making to Improve Your Life
I also know that I am taking strong action now that is in line with the outcome I want and I feel really good about it now. In fact, I can’t believe how long I took to finally decide.
I know that making decisions that are in line with my desired outcomes are the surest way to improve my life in all areas: health, finances, career, and relationships.
Keep deciding my friends!
One of the ways I stay sane is to look at my unmade decisions. I write more about making decisions and other helpful practices in this post.
How to Get Unstuck is one of my most read posts. I share my personal story of the most stuck time in my life and what I did to move through it. The practice I began then; I continue today. I know now, that I can make progress no matter how stuck I feel.
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I'm a former counselor, career services leader, and college advisor. Now I coach and write at My Think Big Life promoting health and personal growth.