As a fellow indecisive person, I get you.
The question, “What do you want for dinner?” sends you into a tailspin of contemplation. The thought of choosing just one dress at the store gives you the sweats—I mean, how are you supposed to choose just one? When your boss sends you to the food store to pick up dessert for the meeting, you panic as you scan the shelves of donuts, cookies, muffins…ahhh! A half hour later, you’re still at the store, texting your boss for help.
I’ve been there.
Being indecisive has kept me stuck in all areas of my life. Sure, it sucks having to waste an hour choosing what to order for dinner, but it’s pretty sad that my indecision had kept me stuck in my career, relationships, and self-growth for a loooong time. I just couldn’t decide what my next step would be. I had endless options: I could move to a new city, move to a different country, go to graduate school, start a blog, apply to new jobs, “climb the ladder” at my then-current job, start online dating, become an English-teacher volunteer…the list goes on and on.
Out of all of those exciting options, I chose nothing. Nothing at all.
Instead, indecision immobilized me, and I was nowhere closer to living the life I’d always envisioned for myself.
I wasn’t going to let it hold me back forever, so I did research, and I tested things out. I practiced a lot. Here are five of the best strategies I learned about making decisions; I’d like to share them with you, my indecisive soul-sisters!
5 Ways to Make Decisions Like a Boss (+ eliminate stress!)
1. The right choice feels like freedom.
In her book, Mind Over Medicine, Lissa Rankin acknowledges that it’s freakin’ hard to know if you’re making the right decision—a decision that’s right for YOU. She suggests that you’ll know that a decision is right if you feel free afterwards—if you feel light-hearted, happy, excited, motivated, uplifted, and aligned.
Way too often, people find themselves making decisions based on what they think they should be doing. For instance, someone might find herself making the decision to climb the corporate ladder, even though she hates her job and feels completely trapped. Teaching yoga—making a difference in her community—could, instead, make her feel excited and free.
So, ask yourself, “Does this decision make me feel free?” If so, you’ve made the right one, my friend.
Way too often, people find themselves making decisions based on what they think they SHOULD be doing. Click To Tweet
2. Wait 4 days before making a decision.
I know our first instinct is to make a decision quickly and, often, frantically. But, according to Cherokee tradition, as detailed in the book, Walking on the Wind by Michael Garrett, it makes sense to hold off on making all important decisions for 4 days. Let the possible options and relevant information sink in before you make your decision. For these 4 days, do things as you normally would. Paint, take walks, cook dinner, go out with friends, write.
During these 4 days, an “aha!” moment of inspiration could come to you. At the very least, you’ll have more clarity. Without the pressure of having to make a decision right away, your decision-making skills become sharper and more precise.
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3. Take the “Heck yes or no” test.
This strategy revolutionized the way I make decisions, and this test will change everything for you, too.
Here’s how it works:
Let’s say a guy asks you out, and you’re not sure if you should say yes. Well, if your answer isn’t a “Heck yes”—if you’re not SO EXCITED to go out with him—then your answer is really no.
Now, let’s say your friends ask you to go to Cancun with them this summer. If your answer isn’t a “Heck yes”—if your answer isn’t an absolute, ecstatic yes—then your answer is, again, no.
It’s as simple as that. Heck yes or no. You can cut your decision-making time in half by taking this test. Use that extra time for your poetry, blog, job, or creative project.
Ask yourself, 'Does this decision make me feel free?' If so, you've made the right one. Click To Tweet
4. Flip a coin.
When it comes time to make a decision, people always say, “follow your intuition!” Well, how the heck are you supposed to know what your intuition is saying?!
Anita Moorjani, in her book, What If This Is Heaven?, talks about a unique way to figure this out. Let’s say you have the option to learn a new language, and you’re deciding between learning Spanish in Mexico City or Italian in Rome. Assign Spanish to the “heads” side and Italian to the “tails side,” and flip the coin. Mid-air, you’ll know which side of the coin you’re secretly rooting for. Your decision will become clear to you before that coin comes flying back down.
5. Limit your choices to three.
While having choices is important for living a rich, exciting life, having too many choices can have the opposite effect. It can leave you feeling stuck and paralyzed, especially if you’re not clear on what your next step is.
To combat analysis paralysis, Tim Ferriss, best-selling author and blogger, suggests limiting all possible options to three. For instance, if you want to join a gym, make sure you’re only choosing between three possible gyms—Gold Gym, Planet Fitness, and Retro Fitness. You’ll actually be more likely to join a gym, any gym, if you have fewer options to choose from.
Not only does limiting your options help you move forward in one direction, but it also leads to increased satisfaction. You’ll be much happier with your decision if you have fewer options to choose from.
And remember, most decisions are reversible, so don’t sweat it so much! If you find yourself on a wrong path, it’s never too late to back-track and choose a different one. In the words of Anita Moorjani, “Live life fearlessly.”
Be easy on yourself. Forgive yourself. If you choose an option that later turns out to be the wrong one, take a deep breath, and choose a different path. After all, no one’s ever had all of the necessary information to make a perfect decision. It’s impossible to foresee, for certain, how anything will turn out. Take comfort in the fact that you did the best you could with the information you had at the time.
I hope that these 5 strategies help you make feel-good decisions more confidently and move forward more easily!
Read this next: Night Owl’s Guide to a More Productive Morning Routine
Did these strategies help you? What are some of your favorite tips for making decisions? Leave your comments below, and maybe they’ll help someone else! 🙂
Jessica Marshall is a writer, traveler, and the co-founder of Your Velveteen Life. Joined by her sister, Shannon, she’s on a mission to help women get unstuck, and create a life full of purpose, through the power of intentional travel. Go to their website www.yourvelveteenlife.com and get their free, word-for-word scripts to wow your friends and family when they ask you that dreaded question, “So what have you been up to these days?“