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How to Make Decisions Without the Stress

So, you struggle when it comes to making a decision?

If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be?

This past fall I was in a meeting and we were asked this question.  We broke into small groups to share our thoughts before sharing our ideas out to the whole group.  One of my friends (who’s an amazing leader and a strong woman in my opinion) was in my group.  As we talked about our answers to this question she said she wished she could have the superpower of always making the right decision.

What do you think about that? Do you want that superpower too?

If so, I get it. Making decisions can be scary. Especially if they’re big decisions.

You’re afraid you’re going to make the wrong decision. You get confused about what to do. And you tell yourself you just don’t know what to do.  So instead of making a decision, you choose not to decide. 

You sit and wonder.

You think about every possible angle.

You analyze all the possible outcomes.

And you just continue doing this without ever actually deciding.

But I want to offer the idea that not making a decision is actually making a decision. It’s not a powerful or active decision, but it’s a decision.  You’re deciding to overthink things, get more information, over eat, over drink, or spin in confusion.  And you end up paralyzing yourself by what you’re thinking. 

3 Reasons to Make a Decision

  1. Making a decision saves you time.

When you don’t make a decision that helps you take action and move forward, you stay stuck in the same situation you’re currently in.  You stay in the exact situation you wish you could figure out how to get out of. You end up costing yourself time and you never get that time back. That time is really your life.

2. Making a decision increases your confidence.

People often think that you have to have confidence so you can make bold decisions. They try to build their confidence by taking passive action like reading more, learning more, or thinking about it more. But that’s not the way confidence works. We increase our confidence by making decisions and then having our own back, following through, and doing what we said we were going to do.  The more we make decisions and take action, the more we build our confidence in ourselves. It’s not the other way around.

3. We learn, grow, and up-level our lives when we make decisions.

Making decisions is a skill. The more we practice this skill, the better we get at it. When we learn to make powerful decisions for ourselves and then follow through with the decisions we’ve made, we’re able to create more of what we want in our lives. I hear so many people say they’re bad at making decisions. If that’s you and you’re wanting to get better at this skill, here are a few things you can do.

How to Get Better at Making Decisions

  1. When trying to decide whether or not to change something in your life, ask yourself if you would purposely choose whatever you’re currently doing again.

This past year, for example, I was deciding if I wanted to leave the teaching profession and transition to working full time building my coaching business or if I wanted to continue teaching full time while also coaching.

Here are a few questions I asked myself:

“Would I choose to teach full time while also coaching again?” 

“Do I want to have the schedule I had this past year again?” 

“Do I want to coach part time for another year?”

So if you’re deciding if you want to change something, ask yourself if you would do it again. I love doing this with my marriage.  Knowing what I know now, would I marry my husband again? My answer is, “Absolutely!” Asking that question gives me valuable information to make a decision and do what I really want to do.

Just ask yourself if you would purposely choose whatever you’re doing now again and make yourself answer.

In my job situation I started to answer those questions with things like, “Well, but I love teaching,” “I’ve been in education or social work my whole adult life,” “I’m really good at what I do and my work is impactful,” and “It feels like I’m abandoning the teaching profession, my community, my colleagues, and my students.”

Those aren’t actually answers to the questions I was posing.

If I was being honest with myself, my answer to all of my questions was no.  I didn’t want to purposely choose to do both of those things again.  I’d done that for two years and I wanted to choose something different for this coming year.  I wanted to see what I was able to achieve if I made this powerful decision to close the door on my career in education and push the door wide open for my coaching business which I’m so passionate about. 

Could I have done both again? Yes. But I didn’t want to.

I didn’t need to hate teaching to leave. I didn’t need to be bad at it to make a different choice. I could just decide to do something different because I had the desire to. Period.

It’s really that simple.

2. Choose to believe that either decision will work out for you.

What if you believed that there wasn’t actually a wrong decision?

I believe that whatever I decide is for me and my growth. Think about how your life would change if you decided to believe that there wasn’t a wrong decision. Consider how you could impact your life if you decided to believe that anything you chose to do would be the right thing for you. What would change for you if you chose to imagine the best instead of choosing to imagine the worst?

Here’s a powerful question you can ask yourself:

If either decision would work out well for me, which would I choose?

3. Rethink what failure means to you.

Most of my clients come to me afraid of failing.  They think when they fail at something it means they’re a failure as a person, that everyone will see them as a failure, or that really negative things will happen to them.  If that’s what you think too it’s no wonder you’re afraid to try new things.

Thinking of failure as a terrifying thing likely makes you stay in your comfort zone and not do what you’re really capable of or what you really want to do. What if instead you just decided that failure was necessary for your growth.  In order to grow and learn, failure is required. And really, failing is just not meeting the expectation you had for something. That doesn’t mean you should lower your expectations. But instead get curious about all the ways you could keep showing up to figure out how to meet your goal.

Imagine how you might change your life if you just kept trying, getting creative, fine tuning, and accepting that failing forward along the way is required for your success.

The only true failure as you were defining it before is giving up ahead of time and deciding it’s not worth it.

Decide to do the big, scary thing and have your back with lots of love and compassion throughout the whole process.

4. Choose ‘And’

When we’re trying to make decisions we usually set it up so we have to choose one or the other.  One strategy you can try instead is allowing yourself to choose both.  This could work well if you’re deciding whether or not you want to quit your job when you become a mom. Or if you’re wanting to build a business and you’re deciding whether or not to continue in your current role while you do that, this could be a good strategy for you. 

There are times when choosing both and deciding to do this AND that will serve you. You don’t always have to use the either/or strategy when making a decision.

One Last Note!

Decision making is a powerful skill.  If you’re wanting to build this skill but it seems daunting to start with a big decision you have on your mind right now, start small.  Start with little decisions that really don’t have any negative consequences.  Decide where your group of friends will eat when you go out to eat together this weekend. Choose where to go for a weekend getaway. Decide what movie you and your hubby will watch. Decide ahead of time what you’re going to accomplish today.  Then do the very thing you decided to do! 


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