“I used to be indecisive, but now I am not quite sure.” (Tommy Cooper, British Comedian)

I’m reminded of the classic marital debacle:

“Honey, where do you want to go to dinner tonight?”

“Ummm, I don’t care.  You pick.”

“No, I picked last time, it’s your turn.”

“It doesn’t matter, I’m in the mood for anything.  Surprise me.”

And on it goes.  Neither spouse desiring to make the final call.  Each trying to portray sacrificial respect, while at the same time, frustration brews just below the surface, often leading to an all-out shouting match.

While the example provided above is in jest, it does beg the question: “What makes us so indecisive?”

Well, for one thing, I think fear of making the wrong decision is the prominent answer.  A person may be afraid of failure or, quite possibly, even the consequences of success.  Also, someone may worry what other people will think about them.

But indecision isn’t always bad.  Sometimes indecision gives you valuable time to think about the situation…a chance to gather more information and weigh the facts.  Often, if you can’t make a quick decision, the implication may be that the choice really matters to you.  But the key is not to allow indecision to keep you stuck forever.  Lack of confidence is a mindset, one that you can decide to overcome.

While this is easier said than done, here a are a few thoughts I try to embrace when I’m dealing with indecision.

  1. Overcome the fear. If you can’t make a decision, that’s likely a sign that you’re afraid of something.  Figure out the hidden fear and ask yourself what you’ll do if that fear comes to pass.  Is it truly possible?  Or are you suffering more from imagination than reality?  If it does come to pass, how will you cope?  Setting your mind up for scenarios, both best- and worst-case, will help alleviate the fear and help you work through the decision.
  2. Set a deadline. Usually, when we’re having trouble making a decision, we tend to over-analyze.  There comes a time when no matter how much information you have, or how much logic you’ve applied, the decision just has to be made.  At the end of your deadline, go with your gut.
  3. Include others. Surrounding yourself with a personal Board of Advisors is always a good idea.  Your trusted best-friend(s), your spouse, your partner, all are there for you.  They are willing to listen and offer a helping thought.
  4. Ask “Will this matter 10 years from now?”. We often over-dramatize how big the impact of a decision really is.  Sometimes, it truly is a big deal and really will matter 10 years from now!  But most decisions are shorter-term, and often don’t have a large impact in the overall scheme of things.

Finally, accept the power of “good enough”.  While attending executive coaching a few years ago, I became aware of the “80% Approach”.  This approach embraces the ‘good enough’ factor so well!  Stay tuned as next week, I’ll dig deeper into the 80% Approach and how you can apply it to your life to be a more decisive person!