Advertising
Advertising

5 Ways to Stop Second Guessing Yourself

5 Ways to Stop Second Guessing Yourself

Decide: 5 ways to stop second guessing yourself

    Some years ago I remember standing in my kitchen, staring silently at my boxes of cereal, trying to decide which to have for breakfast.  Was it a Frostie’s morning, or was it more of an Oat Crunchie’s day?  Or maybe granola?  I stood there for 5 minutes, until – utterly frustrated – I marched out of the house and went without.

    Fortunately I’ve learned to make decisions more quickly and more easily now, and when I notice that second-guessing and doubting starting to kick in, I kick it right back.  So here are 5 ways to stop second-guessing or, of you prefer, 5 ways to make confident decisions.

    Advertising

    1. Test them against your values.

    So many times we have to make decisions without a framework and no way to judge between two choices.  When faced with a tricky decision it’s often a good idea to line up your choices and ask “Which one of these most honours the things that mean the most to me?”

    The decision that’s most in line with the things that mean the most to you – your core values – will be the best decision for you.  That might not be the simplest or most practical, but because it fits with who you are and what’s most important to you it will always be the best decision for you.

    2. Trust your gut.

    When I was growing up I used to love rainy Sunday afternoons watching Columbo, especially the bit at the end where he’d sidle up to the Bad Guy, say “Just one more thing” and then proceed to blow apart the bad guys alibi.  Just brilliant.

    Advertising

    What Columbo had bundles of was a great trust in his intuition.  In every episode, from the very moment he first meets the bad guy, he knows ‘whodunnit’ – and he always trusts that.

    So look at what your intuition tells you is the ‘right’ decision for you.  Forget about all the “What if’s” and the myriad, tiny details – what is your gut telling you?  Listen to your intuition, it knows what it’s talking about.

    3. It just doesn’t matter.

    My decision between breakfast cereals wasn’t a biggie.  Whichever one I chose, there were never going to be any huge consequences and the ripples from that decision wouldn’t have been felt much further than the end of my spoon.  Sometimes it just doesn’t matter which way you go.

    Advertising

    It’s easy to get wrapped up in second guessing yourself, going round in circles and over-complicating things, when – if you get right down to it – it just doesn’t matter. Going round in circles is only going to make you dizzy, so stop it.  Ask yourself this question – if your future happiness wasn’t dependent on your decision (and it isn’t, by the way), which way would you go?

    4. Have enough information.

    Go and get the facts before you make a complex decision.  By all means weigh up the pro’s and con’s so that you can get an understanding of what’s behind a choice.  But be careful – there’s a huge difference between knowing enough to make a choice, and knowing everything to make a choice.

    When you feel yourself pursuing every fact or every piece of information before you make a decision, stop yourself.  Ask “What do I really need to know to make this decision?” and focus your efforts on getting the best information relatively quickly, rather than pursuing all of the information you could get your hands on given a longer period of time.

    Advertising

    5. Respect your doubts.

    We all naturally shy away from change, and we’ve developed a whole bunch of tricks that make it easy for us to avoid making decisions and stay exactly where we are.  That part of you is often called the “Gremlin”, and it’s the part of you that would rather avoid making decisions altogether rather than run the risk of making a bad one or screwing up.

    Your Gremlin is not the same thing as having doubts, which are valid concerns about a possible course of action, or reasonable concerns about what might be in store. Your doubts can help you prepare for change and get ready for what could happen.

    Your Gremlin is adept at feeding on your doubts and using them to get you to stay put, so knowing the difference between your Gremlin and your valid doubts helps you clarify what’s real and what’s imagined, what’s relevant and what’s irrelevant.

    More by this author

    Steve Errey

    Steve is a confidence coach who helps leaders build confidence.

    How to Be Confident: 62 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence New Years Resolutions Don’t Work – Here’s Why 7 Ways to Stop Being Treated Like a Doormat I Like You a Lot How To Muster Your Confidence And Tell Someone You Like Them Stuck in Rewind. 7 Beliefs That Will Help When You Get Stuck

    Trending in Featured

    1 3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively 2 How to Master the Art of Prioritization 3 How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life 4 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 5 11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Results

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

    This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

    Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

    When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

    This is why setting priorities is so important.

    Advertising

    3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

    There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

    1. Eat a Frog

    There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

    Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

    When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

    2. Move Big Rocks

    Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

    Advertising

    You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

    If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

    For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

    To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

    In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

    Advertising

    3. Covey Quadrants

    If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

    Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

    1. Important and Urgent
    2. Important and Not Urgent
    3. Not Important but Urgent
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent

      The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

      Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

      Advertising

      You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

      Getting to Know You

      Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

      In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

      These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

      More Tips for Effective Prioritization

      Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

      Read Next