I’ve always been indecisive. When people used to ask me what my favorite color was as a child, I would give them multiple answers before blurting out that I liked them all.
I’m the girl who will stare at a menu for longer than is really necessary just trying to decide what salad dressing to order. In general, having multiple options gives me anxiety.
There are the little questions that don’t matter quite as much: Should I order pizza or cook tonight? What drink should I get at the bar? Should I wear flats or heels tonight?
Then there are the bigger questions: What kind of job do I want? Where will I live? Who do I want to live with?
As I grow up and find myself facing increasing independence and ever-expanding choices, I’m realizing how important it is to have an opinion in uncertain circumstances like these.
Regardless of how “go-with-the-flow” your personality is, there are times in your life when you can’t drift along passively, and when you have to know what you want so you can work towards it and truly make your life what you want it to be.
It’s not healthy to be too picky or demanding, but it’s also not healthy to be overly indifferent; neither end of the spectrum will get you very far. So, to all of my friends out there who don’t know if they should order pizza or cook tonight, here are some tips to help you become more decisive:
1. Learn about yourself.
Imagine you’re a stockbroker on Wall Street. You would never make a financial decision without first getting to know your client, right?
You have to know his or her risk-taking tendencies, values, goals and assets in order to make the decision that’s best for the client. Similarly, to make decisions in your own life, you have to know yourself.
Without understanding what you want to gain, what you can’t stand to lose, etc., your judgment will be skewed and you may find yourself stranded in a muddled pool of indecisiveness.
2. Make a list.
When you feel overwhelmed by multiple options, it can help to list out each alternative separately (this can be a mental or a pen and paper list).
Doing so will help clear your head a little and allow you to begin digesting all of the possibilities. Once you’ve accounted for all of your choices, odds are you’ll notice some you don’t even like that much anyway, and you can cross those off the list.
3. Determine pros and cons.
For each of your options, there are going to be pros and cons. Analyzing these can go a long way in helping you figure out what your best option is.
This goes back to knowing yourself. Once you have your pros and cons figured out, you should use your values to decide which are most important to you personally, and which outweigh each other.
5. Consider how it will affect your life.
When you’re trying to make a decision, it’s important to evaluate the benefits and consequences of that decision. Say you choose option A: Will it make you happy? Will it be worth it?
It’s also important to consider the consequences of choosing a different alternative. Say you choose option B: Will you regret not choosing option A later on down the road?
6. Don’t let an opportunity pass you by.
Some chances come about once in a lifetime. When you’re torn between taking a risk or playing it safe, consider how rare the opportunity is. Don’t let fear force you into a state of indecisiveness just because you’re not sure what the future will hold.
7. Do you.
Some people who suffer from chronic indecisiveness do so because they are people-pleasers. They are more concerned with what other people want than what they themselves may want or need.
That’s all good and well, but there comes a time when you have to stop worrying about what other people think and become a self-pleaser.
You don’t have to be an assh*le about it; you can still take other people into consideration, just be careful to not let others completely dictate the decisions that affect you. At the end of the day, it’s your life that you have to live.
8. Go with your gut.
Scrutinizing pros and cons and prioritizing options will only get you so far. Sure, these tactics can help lead you down the path of decision-making, but if you ever have a strong internal feeling, you’re better off just going with it.
It’s called intuition, and it may be right more often than you think. If you don’t go with your gut feeling, you might find yourself regretting it later, or wondering what would have happened if you did.
9. If all else fails, flip a coin.
I’m not talking about a simple heads-or-tails call and BAM your decision is made for you. You may have heard this before, and you may think it’s cheesy, but if you’re having a hard time deciding between two alternatives, take a coin and assign one option heads and the other tails. Flip the coin.
In that instance, before you know the result, what are you hoping for? If you feel disappointed when it lands on heads, your decision has been made: tails.
Photo Courtesy: MTV/The Hills