At times, making decisions can seem so simple.
You get up in the morning, decide to have cereal instead of eggs for breakfast, decide to wear a blue shirt instead of a red one, or to watch one morning news show over another. There are no lingering regrets or angst about your decision. If only all decisions could be this straightforward.
Sadly, some decisions you have to make can be paralyzing. You may either avoid making the decision and hope the situation resolves itself. Or you may engage in a frustrating mental dance of guessing and second-guessing and envisioning the worst possible outcome from finally making a decision. At the end, youre left right where you started as well as frustrated and fearful.
What to Do?
- Consider your resources. Do you have what it takes to make a success of whatever youre contemplating? For instance, if you're debating applying for a promotion, do you have the track record, skills and education to justify your request?
- Focus on a positive outcome only. Whether you're worrying about buying a home in a recession, getting that promotion, or asking someone out on a date, picture success only. It serves two main purposes: 1) You wont focus on any negative scenario that will prevent you from making a decision; 2) You won't engage in behaviors that sabotage the process of doing what you want to do.
- Be realistic. No, this does not contradict focusing on a positive outcome. In fact, it's quite the contrary. Most decisions we have to make in life can have a positive outcome; being realistic acknowledges this. Consider some of the biggest decisions people make in life where to go to college, what career to choose, or whether to get married and have children. Realistically, your decisions about these big life issues can be the most positive of your life. However, being overly optimistic as opposed to realistic could make you likely to ignore "glaring" warning signs, such as choosing to pursue a career in a dying industry or to marry a commitment-phobe.
- Be confident in your survival skills. Believe that no matter what decision you make, you'll be able to cope with the outcome.
- Find a sounding board. Discuss the issue youre facing with a family member or friend whose wisdom and guidance you trust. If youre not fortunate enough to have someone like this in your inner circle, speak to a religious leader, life coach or psychotherapist.
- Embrace the unknown. Paralysis and second-guessing a decision often relates to feeling you don't know everything you should in order to make a decision. The reality is that in many major life situations, it's not possible to know everything. Waiting to do so would mean you'd never make any major decisions. Being confident in your ability to survive and thrive will help you to embrace the unknown and make those all-important decisions.