How do you stop being indecisive?
It’s always difficult organizing a big group to go to a restaurant. Everyone has ideas on where they want to go, where they want to sit, who they want to sit next to. It can be a chore and a half just getting everyone in the same room, let alone in less than 30 minutes. So you finally get everyone there, and things are going great. Everyone’s seated, you’re having a good time, there’s even water for the table, it’s sweet.
Until you hear those words…
“I’m not sure what I want, I’m so indecisive”
And it’s that moment you realize that you’re gonna be there for a while.
Young adults especially are notoriously indecisive, but I think it’s fair to say that all people can exhibit this behaviour at one point or another. Ordering at a restaurant is one thing, and it’s an example where it’s not necessarily going to be a horrible thing if it takes you a bit longer to make a decision. However, what do you do when it’s in other areas of your life where indecision is creeping in? The decision to work, to love, to commit, to use your faith, to pick a path that you’re going to go down. Those sort of decisions are a lot bigger and can be a lot harder.
And so what a lot of us end up doing is not making a decision. We kind of just stare at our options until they go away. You get offered the promotion, but you’re not sure of whether or not you really want it, so you keep thinking it through til the moment passes. The same could be true in other areas – you’re going to buy a house, but you’re not sure if the rate you’re getting is the best, and you kind of just sit on the decision til you still haven’t made it. There are also similar choices in dating, marriage, and friendships – who should you spend your time with? And often in those also, we end up staring until it kind of goes away. Not really in or out of any of these decisions, just kind of ofay.
So how can you stop being indecisive? What do you do when it comes to the point of indecision? A crossroads, a fork in the road, an opportunity comes up, or you have the chance to do something with your life – what do you do?
Here’s 7 ways to be more decisive.
1. Does this decision take you where you want to go?
Where are you going with your life? You might want to buy a house in a certain suburb, you might want to be married by a certain age to a certain type of person, you may have bigger aspirations down the track regarding career or travel or influence.
If you make this decision and decide to go down this road, will it take you where you want to go? Make decisions that are the friend of your future. If you continue on this path for 10 years, will you be where you want to be in 10 years’ time? If you travel to another country for another job, will it lead you to the place you eventually want to see yourself? If you go down this road, will you be doing what you know you’re called to do?
2. Revisit your vision
On that last point, if you don’t know where you’re going, it’s going to be a lot harder to work out what to say yes to and what to say no to. If you’re not sure who you are or what you are here for, you’re not going to be as confident in making those bigger decisions in life – decisions of career, of marriage, of location.
Without vision, the people dwell foolishly, cast off restraint, and eventually perish. In my life I know I’m called to certain things – I love to get involved in solving Western poverty – that is, there are people who earn 6-figure salaries, yet still can’t sleep at night, are unhappy, and don’t know what they’re doing. As a result, while I will always try my best and get involved in ventures that aid those who are lacking material wealth, I know my priority lies with those who are lacking spiritual and emotional wealth. It makes it easier working out where to focus my efforts.
So how about you? What is it that makes you come alive? When you’re facing those bigger decisions, go back to square one, and launch out from there.
3. Count the cost
What will it cost you to go down this road? Have you actually thought it through?
Jesus was teaching about the cost of discipleship and asked, “Who among you when considering building something does not first sit down and work out the cost involved?”.
Well, quite a few of us sometimes. We would love a career in X with an influence of Y with a marriage of Z with kids who are A, B, and C.
But what will it cost you to be that person?
Will it cost you time and effort to become more educated and get your tertiary qualifications? Will it require you to become more selfless and to learn how to put others first? (The answer of course is yes to that one, wherever you’re going) Are you okay with how much you will need to give to be that person, to do those things?
Count the cost. Think it through. If it’s a price you cannot afford, or that you’re not willing to pay, then your answer is no. But if you think it through, you have seen exactly what it will mean for you, or have an idea of what it will mean for you, then go for it.
4. Pray about it
This is obviously one more directed to people of faith, but I do have a question for you:
And when you pray, do you just tick off the list the fact that it’s come up in your prayer life and you’ve said some words around it, or do you actually get serious and try to find an answer?
God speaks in a whole lot of different ways. The favourite and the most talked about and hoped for response is the “still small voice”. But hey, God spoke to lots of people throughout history in very different ways too – He sent people, He spoke out of a tornado, He appeared and almost destroyed a mountain with His presence, He gave people dreams and visions.
If I send someone a text, and they give me a phone call or a Facebook message in reply, I can’t complain and say, “well, they’re obviously not talking to me”. Maybe God’s answer is in a format you’re not expecting. Scripture tells us in James that if you ask God for wisdom, He will gladly give it you. Which means if you’ve prayed for wisdom, there’s a good chance He’s actually already answered or answering you.
5. Beware the fear of missing out
This is no doubt the biggest reason for indecisiveness.
What if something better comes along?!
I mean, what if you make this decision, and then somewhere down the track, a better option presents itself? What if you choose this job, but 3 weeks later someone else calls with a better one? What if you date or marry this person, and the man or woman of your dreams comes into your life months later? What if you’ve gone to this church but there’s actually a better one somewhere else?
The illusive illustration we always quote is “the grass is greener on the other side”.
In truth, the grass is greener where you water it.
Commitment is a decision that no matter what comes along later on, this is the best option you could have taken. Or if it’s not, you have committed to making it the best option. Obviously, there’s a bit of flexibility here with some things, especially pertaining to work. In truth, better offers will come around in 5 or 10 years time. But if you’re constantly holding back your ability or limiting the jobs you apply for because you want the perfect one, then you won’t be living to your best, and you are missing out on making your current place right here “the perfect job” by your investment.
There’s a lot less flexibility when it comes to things like marriage. What if someone better comes along? Well, it’s pretty much a guarantee that someone else “better” will come along. Just ask anyone who’s been married longer than 5 years of how many tempting offers have come past. Heck, even look at how many drop out of their marriages because they see what they perceive to be a better offer. I’m not married yet, but some of the best advice I’ve heard on the matter comes from one of my old pastors who always said, “Marriage isn’t so much about finding the right person as it is about being the right person”.
What if someone’s appearance changes in 5 years time? What if they have an accident (God forbid), or they start losing or gaining weight? What if they decide they’d like to do a different career? Could you still love them then? That’s a lot more about us than it is about the other person.
What if you regret this decision you later on? You almost certainly will at some point, no matter what you do. It’s human nature. And when it comes to that moment, your commitment and vision will determine what happens from there.
Live a life that determines to give your all wherever you find yourself. There will be moments where it is appropriate to take new open doors into different things and to leave old things behind, but let our decisions be wise in those areas and from a life that is lived to the fullest.
6. Think about it, but don’t overanalyze
The reason why a lot of opportunities can slip past us is because we overanalyze. We think it all the way through. Every single scenario has run through our minds, kept us up at night, and we know all the branching paths that are ahead.
And so we dream about it rather than do something about it.
John Maxwell, a great leadership speaker, always says that “overanalysis creates paralysis”. Too true.
Something I’ve been learning with myself is I’m very analytical. I am a programmer/consultant by trade, and the IT world is a very structured world with a mathematical layout. It helps me out quite a lot, but sometimes it can also throw me off a bit. Sometimes in life though things aren’t always A or B, sometimes they are A and a part of B. Sometimes it’s not this or that, sometimes it is, sometimes you close the door to some things, but sometimes it’s possible to do both. Don’t let overanalysis immobilize you or lock you into only one potential train of thought.
Ask the questions, get the information, but when it’s time to make a decision, make it.
7. Take a chance!
At the end of the day, you have to make a move. You can keep talking about it, telling friends about it, writing about it, thinking about it, going through the motions, but when it’s decision time, why not take a chance?
A final good question to think about is – what is the worst that could happen?
We usually take this as a bad question, and another reason we don’t always do things. We’re afraid it won’t work out. We’re afraid we won’t enjoy it. We’re afraid that we’ll change our mind.
Ok, so if those are the worst things that can happen, then you’re doing ok. All of those things you can revisit and come back from later. You end up hating the job or the course. Okay cool, you can find another one. You date for a while and it turns out it’s not a good decision. Cool, now you know. You’ve locked yourself into a long contract that you have to pay out. Kind of annoying, but it will eventually end, and you’ll have another opportunity later.
But what is the best that could happen? What if it does work out? What if it’s better than you could ever imagine?
Let us never let fear or indecision hold us back from moving forward and making definitive strides forward in our lives.
So those are just some thoughts from a guy like you on being more decisive in life. What are some other things that may hold you back from being more decisive, and what are some ways you have found helped you?