Stop Being Indecisive

I used to have a huge issue when it came to being decisive, or should I say, indecisive. I’d worry and stress about my time management so much, that when it came to actually taking action, I had no time left to do so.

The problem with my indecisive mindset was that it was taking hold over everything I did. It wasn’t just relationships, friends, or family. It was minor things like what I wanted to eat for dinner, what I wanted to spend my time doing in the afternoon, or whether I should exercise that morning or not.

Most people equate indecisive behavior with relationships. Usually something like “Should I stay with this person or should I leave them?” Of course, it’s easy to see how somebody can fall into this trap, but at the same time, that indecisive action can carry itself around you in a multitude of ways you may not even be aware of. Relationships are certainly a popular one, but it can also strike in practically every other aspect of your life. Regardless, it doesn’t matter WHAT you remain indecisive about, the outcome is always the same: the longer you remain indecisive, the faster your options seem to disappear. Before long, you’ve lost the chance to take action, or your choices have been severely limited.

That’s the problem with being indecisive, it never allows you to clear your conscious or develop a resolution in one direction or the other. Suppose you were in that relationship issue above, what do you think indecisiveness would do to fix it? Absolutely nothing. Think of being indecisive as putting a constant pressure onto your core, always there and never leaving. That pressure never feels better and it continually slows you down in whatever you do. When you come to a decision, that pressure removes itself, regardless of whether it was the “right” decision or not.

Picking the “wrong” choice

The reason most people can be so indecisive, myself included, is because they fear picking the “wrong” choice. If the “right” decision always had a flashing sign above it, we’d never have to worry about being indecisive to begin with; yet in truth, rarely is it that simple. Usually there is no “right” or “wrong” answer, as both options may present themselves with an equal opportunity. This is where indecisiveness often strikes us the worst, because both choices are so close, how are we to know what to pick?

Like I said, the longer you wait, the weaker your options are going to become. As in the relationship scenario above, the longer you wait to decide whether you want to stay with this person or move on, the more miserable you’re going to be. Your mind is never going to have a chance to be at peace with itself, it’s going to be in a constant state of analysis. Bringing up old memories, scanning facts, contemplating the future, trying to determine the optimal balance; your mind will be doing all of these things and more. You may even lose your ability to decide at all. What if the person gets so fed up because you can’t commit in one direction or the other, that they end up dumping you?

But if we know our fear of following through on the wrong choice leads to our indecisiveness, then how do we prevent that? First we need to understand why it is we’re indecisive in the first place. We know it’s based upon a platform of fear, yes, but WHY do we lack the ability to predict the right decision? Why do we waste time in the indecisive phase when we could be moving towards the action phase?

From Indecisive to Active

If you can at least recognize when you’re indecisive then that’s the first step. There’s a difference in contemplating your choices for a few moments and being indecisive. Being indecisive locks you up, it freezes you, preventing you from moving past your current obstacles and determining a solution. Once you’ve caught yourself in this indecisive phase, you need to determine how large of a decision it is that’s holding you up. Is it in determining whether you want to get married to somebody? What about what university you want to attend? Maybe you’re not sure whether you want to take that new job or not? All of these certainly represent large-scale choices, things that we definitely aren’t going to take lightly in our lives.

Chances are if you’re in the indecisive phase you’ve already gathered all your facts and information about each option, so stop stressing yourself out over every minor detail. Simply give yourself 24 hours to make a decision, and once those 24 hours are up, commit to the decision you’ve made. Let all your fears go of “did I make the right decision?” In fact, get out of that mindset to begin with, that “right or wrong” kind of mindset. That’s what leads to indecisive action to begin with, and the sooner you can commit yourself and your resources to the choice you’ve made, the sooner you’ll be on your way.

What about smaller decisions though? I remember I used to struggle all the time on whether or not I wanted to go out and get coffee. I hated the thought of having to deal with traffic, and I didn’t want to spend 20 minutes out only to return with a cup of coffee. It seemed wasteful to me, but at the same time, having it gave me a chance to refresh myself and get back on track with whatever it is I was doing. I remember some days I was so indecisive I’d literally spend an hour contemplating on whether or not I wanted to deal with traffic and get that coffee or not. The funny thing is, if I had just gone out I would have been done in 20 minutes to begin with, yet here I was, an hour later still trying to decide what to do.

I eventually just got frustrated with the whole ordeal, like I’m sure a lot of you do, and I’d end up making a decision an hour or so later. I mean it’s kind of stupid, isn’t it? Spending an hour being indecisive, when the entire task itself only took 20 minutes?

Set a Time Limit

Now I’m certainly not going to spend 24 hours on a small decision like this. When I get stuck in the indecisive phase for a minor decision, such as what I want for dinner or whether I want to pickup coffee or not, I give myself 1 minute to decide, and that’s that

1 minute to decide

Not a second more. Once I’ve decided the path I want to choose, then I commit to it and stick on that path. The problem with indecisiveness and regret is that it saps us of our strength that we could otherwise use to better our actions. So for example, if you decide you want to get coffee, and then the entire way there and back you keep thinking how you wasted your time, chances are you’re not even going to be able to relax and enjoy that coffee to begin with. The same holds true for all our decisions, whether it’s relationships or deciding on what job to take. For each additional second we spend in the indecisive phase, that’s one less second we have in the action phase.

The next time you’re indecisive, and you KNOW you’re being indecisive, then give yourself a minute to allow a choice and then follow through with that choice. Do NOT waste time thinking about whether you made the “right” choice or not. There have been times before where I’ve literally wasted hours and hours trying to decide what I wanted to spend my afternoon doing. Did I want to finish up on some projects around the house? Did I want to enjoy my time reading? Maybe go out with a friend to lunch? I can’t even say I usually made it to a decision, because before long the afternoon had ended and all of my options had been forfeited. I’d spent so much time being indecisive; I literally watched each and every choice I had crumble right before my face.

You’ll be surprised at how much time you can save by eliminating the indecisive phase and hopping straight into the action phase. 1 minute is really all you need to decide, if it takes you longer than that you’re just wasting your own time. Even with the bigger, life-changing decisions of our lives, once we’ve gathered all the facts, 24 hours is plenty of time to come to a conclusion. Each hour after that is just another hour of indecisiveness weighing itself down on you, delaying you from actually getting anywhere.

Besides, what do you have to lose? The sooner you realize that “right” and “wrong” choices don’t exist, the sooner you can get on with your life. Every choice you make allows you to grow in some way or form; the issue then is not whether you chose correctly, but whether you chose at all.