One of the biggest problems we face is the mental battle we have inside that I call decision anxiety. Decision anxiety involves the agonizing amount of time we spend going back and forth before we make a decision as well as the post-decision making time in which we worry if we made the right decision or, worse yet, we double back on that decision.
It’s a form of self-torture we put ourselves and our brains through. And we can’t even blame others for it. It’s self-inflicted! Fortunately, there is a cure for this particular anxiety. First, go with your gut. In one study, scientists found that participants chose correctly 90 percent of the time when they went with their first instinct between two choices. That was based on math and it was fast. And still their instincts were right. Just like on a multiple choice test, when you go back and second guess your decisions in life you will probably erase the right choice and replace it with the wrong one.
It’s important to note that listening to your gut is different than people pleasing. Sometimes we make decisions based on other people’s desires in order to be polite or even help someone else. That is not your gut instinct. So, if we can recognize when we’re making decisions based on other people’s needs rather than our own, that will help us to stop making decisions we regret. Don’t say yes to the thing you’re going to regret later. In this way, you stop decision anxiety before it can even creep in.
Some good news about making a decision is that you have tools afterward. Once you make a decision, resolve to make it the right decision. Put your energy toward making that decision a good one rather than using your energy thinking about what ifs or regret. The way to do that is to focus on the good. What good things came or will come out of this decision? Focus on those.
Make the decision the right one by making it the right one. For example, when I bought a double jogging stroller for $500 it was tempting to have buyer’s remorse. I know my husband did. Instead of focusing on that though, I decided to get so much use out of it that we’d all know it had been a smart purchase. So I did. I used it almost everyday for my two girls and took up running my oldest to preschool. It allowed us time to be outside, and be together. It was the right decision. I made it so!
Another tool to becoming a good decision maker is to give yourself permission to course correct. We’re not living in a land of only rainbows and butterflies, so it’s obvious that sometimes things might not workout. Sometimes, a big ol’ iceberg shows up in your path. That is okay. Now you just course correct. Now that you’ve actually made a decision, you can adapt and be flexible as you carry it out. Allowing for course correction making frees you from paralyzation that comes from not being able to make a decision. It allows for movement forward, for progress, for action.
For example, let’s say you decided to go for a run. Hooray, good for you! Sometimes, that’s a big decision, am I right? But now it’s raining. That’s okay. Course correcting means you just decide to get a little wet or you decide to run on a treadmill. You can even veer around that iceberg in your path and do a short cardio-based workout in your home.
So, remember to go with your gut. Remember, that’s not a people-pleasing or knee-jerk reaction. Then, be sure to focus on the good and to make it the right decision. Finally, look for ways to course correct when something seems like it’s going to steer you off your decision’s track. If you apply these concepts to your decision making, you’ll go from having decision anxiety to decision confidence.
You know I’ve got a free tool for you. Download this worksheet and keep it hand for the next time you have a decision to make.