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What to Do When You Just Can’t Make the Decision

What to Do When You Just Can’t Make the Decision

How often have you dithered while making a decision, not knowing which is the correct choice? Life puts us at crossroads many a time and choosing one road over the other by carefully balancing the pros and cons of each, listening to that gut feel and not letting others influence your decisions is very important – if you want to be happy with your lot in life… Decision making is an important skill that we all need to move up and forward, in our career as well as in life.

But Why is Decision Making So Tough?

Frankly, on any given day, we often end up making hundreds of small and maybe insignificant decisions. When to get up, to exercise or not, what to wear, what to eat, where to go, how to go and much, much more? These decisions are made in a split second and are easy enough to figure but because they don’t really affect the outcome of anything per se – our breakfast choice, as long as it healthy and filling enough, does not alter the future of us or the world.

This changes when the decision has been made complicated by external factors. What you wear to the office on a usual day is not much of an issue, but when you have that all-important interview lined up, then your outfit becomes an important decision-making process. If you have difficulty in making decisions, and agonize over your choices for days to come, wondering whether what you did was right, you need to stop. [1]

While we would never advise you make split-second decisions and just plunge in without weighing the pros and cons – you do have to make the decision quickly and concisely and remember these thoughts.

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  • More thinking is not always good thinking.
  • Learn to trust your intuition or gut feel.
  • Give a deadline to decision making.
  • Accept that you cannot always have it all; you might have to compromise a little.
  • Finally, is a decision you took ultimately proves to be wrong – remember that life does hand you lemons sometimes.

How Do I Improve My Decision Making Skills?

Knowing that you have a problem with decision making is a good step. Recognize the signs – if you can’t even order dinner for yourself, then it may be time to polish up your decision-making skills, stiffen your spine and trust what your gut is telling you…

The 10/10/10 Rule To Make Tough But Necessary Decisions

Suzy Welch is a business writer for various respected publications and she invented a simple tool that can help us decide either way, how to move ahead. [2]. Called 10/10/10, and described by Welch in a book of the same name, it advises that we think about the decision we are about to make on three different time frames: How will we feel about it 10 minutes from now? How about 10 months from now? How about 10 years from now? This tool basically helps us see things with a fresh perspective and makes sure that regret is not part of our life – if we can foresee that a decision we make now is likely to leave us with regret later, it means that you head down another road that foresees a happier future.

Face Your Fears And Then Move Forward

A lot of time, decision making paralyzes us, so to speak because we are afraid of the outcome. We fear the result our decision will bring and if basically are so anxious about it, analyzing it to the nth degree so much so we end up frozen in anguish. The key to getting out of this deep freeze is to face and name those fears. Write down the worst things that could happen with the decision you are about to make – for instance, you have a big problem with your spouse and want to air out your grievances. But you are afraid that this will lead to a big fight or even a separation down the road.

The next step is to see – can you cope up with that worst scenario? If it does come to a separation or even a divorce – can you cope with being single, can your children? Think about it long and hard and you might see that while your fears and the worst-case scenario are tough, they just might be manageable as well. [3]

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Stuck? Write Down the Pros & Cons

TED Talker Ruth Chang has a devised a simple way to expedite those decision-making skills. She says you write down the pros and cons of the decision you are about to make for there are no correct or incorrect choices. As people, we are subliminally dictated by our desires and need, even if we ruthlessly tamp them down. This solution is very effective when we are stuck with two choices, and both seem good. Stuck between two marriage proposals, two jobs or two schools for the kids… [4]

If you list out the pros and cons of both your options, you will see the pros of one getting longer than the other – usually, your innate desire or your gut will be making the decision for you. Go with your gut and just leave everything else to the cosmos.

Be Careful of Miswanting & Making Decisions Based on it

Experts say that we end up making the wrong decisions simply because we end up confusing our likes, with our wants. As human beings, we are subject to our emotions and feelings. But feelings don’t really tell us where they come from – and since we often misunderstand their source, we end up not knowing what we liked about our situation in the first place.

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Also, we may want something – and end up confusing the yearning with actual liking. So we may want to see the Louvre, but do we actually like it? We don’t know. We may want a new look… Do we like it? Don’t know…

So sometimes, our decisions should be based more on our likes, than our wants. For instance, we may want to take a trip to an exotic locale. But we know that we like being in the beautiful solitude of the hills, rather than the hub-bub of a Caribbean island. The decision should then be to go to the hills – for that is what we like… [5]

Escape From The Paradox Of Choice

Many years back, decision making was easier than what it is today. Why? Because it did not involve so many choices. Buying a shirt was easy because all you had to do was choose the size and the color. Now if you go to buy a shirt – you got to choose the type, the fit, the buttons, the fabric, the cut, the stitch, the pattern, the collar, the color, the size, and the micro-size.

As Barry Schwartz puts it so eloquently in his TED Talk [6] – we have so many choices today, that each of our decision, be it good or bad comes with the unique flavor of regret – since we end up thinking maybe A, B, C or X, Y, Z was a better choice than the D I chose. And this happens everywhere – in our jobs, the sandwich we buy, the ice cream flavor we finally choose or even the car or the latest pieces of tech we so adored, but now wonder about…

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The solution is to keep it simple – choose 2-3 alternatives, turn a blind eye to the others and go with your gut. As for the rest, let the world carry on dithering – you have made your decision, be happy with it. There’ll always be people who think of you the fool, for the choice you make. The point being, if you are happy, why should you care at all?

Featured photo credit: Medical Daily via images.medicaldaily.com

Reference

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Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Hope is not a strategy when it comes to change. Commitment is what is needed to make real change happen. Can people change? Absolutely, but exchanging your excuses for commitment is necessary to get started.

Human nature leans toward habits, which can become ingrained over the years, but that doesn’t mean habits can be undone.

The good news is that your personality and behaviors can be changed, but it is up to you. Below are some tips to help you get started with change.

1. Figure out What You Need to Change

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of something you would like to change. That’s great! The first step toward change is acknowledging that you have something you need to change.

Look at the repeated problems in your life, the issues that seem to come up time and time again. Do you keep gravitating toward the wrong relationships, but you blame the people you are choosing, rather than looking at your problem in the selection process?

Do you jump from one job to another, yet blame co-workers and bosses, rather than look at what you may be doing to cause problems and dissatisfaction on the job?

We are creatures of habit, so look at the negative patterns in your life. Then, look inside to see what’s causing these repeated life problems to occur. If you can’t figure it out on your own, consider going to a counselor for better understanding. Once you recognize the area that requires change, you can move to the next step.

2. Believe That Change Is Indeed Possible

There are people out there who believe that personality is unchangeable. When confronted with their problem, such as constant negativity, they lash back with “that’s just who I am.” It may be who you are, but does it need to be?

Change in personality and behaviors is possible. Nobody stays the same from one year to the next, let alone across a decade, so why not move change in the direction that is best for you? Be proactive about the change you want in your life, including the belief that change can occur.

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Look for success stories and people who have changed and done what you so deeply desire to do. Seeing that others have been where you have are and have accomplished the change you desire will help you in your process to accomplish that change.

3. List the Benefits of This Change

In order for people to change, they need to buy into the premise that the change is necessary for their betterment. For example, maybe your goal is to be more productive at work. There are many benefits that could come from this, including:

  • Getting more done in a shorter amount of time.
  • Having more time for your family.
  • Getting a promotion
  • Being liked and appreciated by your boss.
  • Being part of the success of the company.

One of the best ways to help yourself stick to the commitment of change is to make a list of the benefits that the change will bring in your life. Make one list of the benefits for your life and another for your loved ones. Recognizing the full spectrum of benefits, including how your change will affect those closest to you, will help you stick with the process of change.

When you have moments of weakness, or fail on a particular day or time, then getting back on track becomes easier when you review your list on a regular basis. Posting your “benefits of change” list somewhere where you see it often, such as a bathroom mirror, will help you be reminded of why you are doing what you are doing.

4. Make a Real Commitment to Change

Make a commitment to the time frame needed for the change to happen. If you want to lose 50 lbs., then set out a realistic plan of a few pounds per week and a timeline that reflects those goals.

It will take you a lot longer than a month, but setting realistic goals will help you stick to your commitment. Change happens one day at a time. It is not immediate, but over the course of time because of your dedication and commitment to the process.

It also helps if you make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.[1]

People can change using SMART goals

    An example of this would be a person who wants to become an active runner so they can tackle a half marathon. The first step would be to research what other people have done for training plans to achieve this goal.

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    Runners World lays out specifics for a beginner to train for a half marathon: “Target the Long Run: Every other week, increase your long run by 1.5 miles until you’re run/walking 13 to 14 miles. On alternate weeks, keep your long run to no longer than three miles. Your longest long run should fall two weeks before your half-marathon. Plan to take about 15 weeks to prepare for the big day.”[2]

    These kinds of specificities will help you create a personalized plan that is achievable and time-bound.

    You can learn more about writing SMART goals here.

    5. Create a Plan of Attack

    You need a set of steps outlined to succeed. This is why 12-step programs are so successful. You can’t simply walk into a meeting and be cured and changed. You need to mentally process the change in order for the change to be lasting and effective.

    Create a plan for your change. Be realistic and investigate what other people have done to change.

    For example, if you are dealing with anxiety and want to change that, then seek out therapy methods to address your problem. Stick with the therapy plan until your change process is complete. Simply hoping the anxiety will someday go away is not a plan.

    6. Commit to Action

    It is wonderful to set a goal for change and to write it down, but if you don’t act, then your mental commitment means nothing. There is no actual commitment unless action follows. To best kick start our change, the key is to act now[3].

    For example, if you committed to lose 50lbs, then now is the time to go join a gym, hire a trainer, and walk into a weight loss clinic to get support. We can make up our mind to be determined to change, but if action does not follow soon thereafter, then you will likely fail.

    If you wait until later that week, you will get caught up in doing your daily routine, things for works, taking care of others, or whatever it may be; there will be distractions that will derail you from taking action later. There is no better time to take action than when you make the decision to change.

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    For example, if you decide you want to finally write that book that is in your mind, but you don’t have a working laptop, then go and get a laptop today. Then, set aside an hour each day after work (and on your calendar) so that you can write. Instead of going out with friends after work, you are committing to achieve this goal, and you have time set aside to make that goal happen.

    7. Find a Support System

    When people want to change, finding a support system is key. A great way to find support is through group therapy or support groups. If you have a substance abuse issue, for example, you can find groups that specialize is supporting you through recovery and change.

    If you prefer to find support in the comfort of your own home, then you can look for online support forums and Facebook groups that deal with whatever change you are looking to pursue.

    Your ability to be successful in change is dependent on your ability to dive in; support systems help you with the initial dive and staying committed thereafter. and will help you stay committed to the process. Don’t underestimate the power you have by partnering with others who are seeking the same change.

    8. Get Uncomfortable

    Change should be uncomfortable. You are entering new territory and stepping out of your comfort zone. Your mind and past habits will be resistant to the change, as it is uncomfortable and difficult.

    If you give up because of the discomfort, then you are destined to fail in your pursuit of change. Embrace the discomfort associated with change and recognize that it puts you one step closer to accomplishing your goals.

    9. Stick to the Plan

    When people decide to change, sticking to it is difficult. If you get derailed from your plan, don’t berate yourself. Instead, allow yourself some margin of error and then get back on track.

    You can’t expect to go on a diet without splurging sometimes. The key is “sometimes.” The sooner you get back on track, the more successful you will be in accomplishing your change goals.

    Other researchers on the topic of change believe this process is about dedication and commitment to the change desired in our day to day lives, as Douglas LaBier from the Huffington Post so aptly stated:[4]

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    “Change occurs from awareness of what aspects of our personality we want to develop, and working hard to “practice” them in daily life.”

    Here are some tips on sticking to a plan:

    Engage in Self-Reflection

    Reflect on things that have derailed you in the past and problem solve them before they happen.

    Jot down those things that tend to get you off track. Now, list ways to combat the derailments before they happen. For example, if you are wanting to lose weight but you work late hours, then commit to morning workouts.

    If you know that in the past you would continually hit the snooze button and subsequently miss the workouts, then hire a trainer for early morning workouts. You are less likely to miss your workout if you have real money attached to it and someone counting on you to show up. You could also schedule morning workouts with a friend, so you know there is someone showing up and you don’t want to let them down.

    Brainstorm solutions for your past derailments so that this time around you are ready to stick to the plan and the commitment you have made to change.

    Define Your Commitment

    Commitment is a daily mental and physical plight when it comes to change. If your commitment is to lose weight, then be specific about how you are going to achieve your change. For example, you decide you are going to stick to 1,800 calories a day and a 1-hour workout every day.

    Then, write those goals down and chart your daily progress. Hold yourself accountable.

    Final Thoughts

    Can people change? Hopefully, by now, you believe that they can. If you have a sense of commitment and persistence, change is possible with any life experience.

    Start small, create specific goals, and don’t wait to get started. You’ll be amazed how far change will take you.

    More on How to Make Changes in Your Life

    Featured photo credit: Jurica Koletić via unsplash.com

    Reference

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