Why is making some decisions difficult and scary?

A decision is making a choice between alternative courses of action in a situation of uncertainty.  This may be why is can be so hard to make decisions, or why we keep making the same ones. The moment you make a powerful decision you step into that uncertainty.

Podcast fave Tonya Leigh offers seven tips on what she described as elegant decision making:

  1. Limit your decisions – we typically make 70 conscious decisions a day.  We start to experience decision fatigue which is where our ability to make good decisions deteriorates. Its hard to make good decisions when we’re mentally exhausted. At the end of a busy day, we start to not give as much attention to decision making and end up sabotaging ourselves.  To combat this is to limit your decisions. This could be what you eat, eating the same things over and over and save the need for diversity for special occasions. That also limits the trips to the shops, you don’t have to think about what to have for breakfast or lunch. Wearing the same few things every day reduces the need to have to decide on an outfit every day.  Limiting where you shop and what you buy, restrain what you buy online to avoid having to return items that don’t fit, or save shopping trips for special occasions. Finances can be limited by automating a lot of the process of moving money about.
  2. Make decisions from where you want to be not from where you are – we often look at what is around right now and base our decisions on what we currently see. Our current thinking is the result of past thinking and past decisions. If you keep looking at what is and making decisions based on that you’ll stay right where you are.  Think about your future self and what decision do they would make. This is where it’s scary, but you have to have confidence and faith in yourself and know everything you want that you don’t have now is within that decision and you need to make some courageous and bold decisions. Its an internal shift in making a decision that aligns with the person you want to be.
  3. Stop asking everyone else what you should do – when we do this, we are delegating our life and decisions to other people.  Its useful to have an outside perspective but if you ask others what they’d do but they are filtering it through their own past beliefs and experiences.  Then you end up confused.  When you make your own decisions it’s a very different experience that if someone makes it for you. Trust yourself to take time to think if you knew what to do what would your decision be.
  4. What does your body tell you? – how often to we override our intuition because someone else told us to do something their way. You will know the truth and it will set you free. When your gut tells you something, listen to it.  If something doesn’t resonate with you it is not your truth.  If you learn to listen to your gut it will guide you to the right response.
  5. Let your values guide your decisions – when you know what you value you can use it to guide your decisions.  If you look at a decision through the lens of your gut intuition and your core values, you’ll be able to tell if it’s a good fit or not.
  6. Give yourself a deadline – procrastinating at making a big decision means it might never happen and you miss out on opportunities along the way. Having a deadline is the space needed to gather information, then decide by that deadline and move on.  There are no wrong decisions, only ones you learn from.  Don’t put pressure on yourself to make the right decision or believe that decisions are the making of your happiness, that comes from your thoughts and feelings. Just make a decision without the drama.
  7. The most important decision you make is not the first one, but the second – the second decision is deciding how you are going to feel about your first decision.  So many times, we doubt ourselves, living in regret. When you make a decision, decide to feel good about it and go all out for it. It’s much more liberating.

I certainly eliminate some of my decision making.  I regularly have the same thing for breakfast on workdays.  I prepare my breakfasts and lunches for the week ahead so I have the same thing for lunch each working day of the week but might have something different next week.  I tend to pre-empt decisions around clothes by making the decision the day before about what I’m going to wear, set it out and it’s ready in the morning. I do tend to switch from an evening and if C starts asking me questions, I find it really hard to concentrate enough to make a sensible contribution or decisions.  More often I’ll go along with what he’s saying, but if my gut is telling me I need to think more carefully on the matter, I’ll tell him I’ll look at it later or tomorrow.  My finances are all wrapped up.  Standing orders and Direct Debits set up where necessary.  The rest is spending money to play with. 

I have a future vision for about five years’ time so I’m already making decisions around how to make that happen.  That includes ensuring pensions are maximised, household issues like new roof tiles, are all taken care of so there should be no big financial layouts at an inconvenient time.  Thinking about the fun stuff, I’ve booked some experiences using vouchers I had for my 50th birthday, so things to look forward to and align with my desire for more culture and to experience the finer things in life. 

When I was booking these experiences, I asked C which theatre show he’d prefer to see, then I thought “hang on a minute, it’s my birthday voucher, I’ll decide which show we’re going to see”, so we’re going to see what I wanted to see.  I might ask another person’s opinion about something, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to follow it.

I am usually quite good at spotting when my body is telling me something isn’t quite right.  When that happens, I usually take a bit longer to come to a conclusion, find out more information, or try to reconcile the options in my head.  I try to think “if I did x, what would happen? And if I did y, what would be different?”.  I try to be as informed as possible, particularly about big decisions.

Sometimes that might feed into setting a deadline for making a decision.  I might put it off for now if I’m not convinced, or need more information, or just not in the right headspace to deal with it at that time.  I try to resolve it quickly though so it’s not hanging over me too long.  Deal with it one way or another and move on.

I usually feel quite good after making a decision. I feel committed to that choice and can park that issue now it’s been decided upon.  It still might not be the best decision, but even if I’ve got it wrong, I’ll learn something from it.

Now, if only I could decide which chocolate to have.  I’ll have all of them to avoid any regrets!


One thought on “Why is making some decisions difficult and scary?

  1. At some points I can seriously procrastinate. But at others I’ll make a snap decision. It may not always be the right one but I’ll deal with it. Chocolate doesn’t need any thought process, it’s always yes, ha 😜


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