I am the type of person where it takes me months to make a decision. Most of these decisions are minuscule, and really do not matter in the end. However, at the time they seem to create a bigger problem. I need to learn to step back, look at the bigger picture, breathe, then decide.
I think that the reason it takes me so long to decide in the first place, is because I know that in the end, life will work out to be what it should. So if I just postpone deciding, something will just happen. Fate.
Lately I have had a lot of tension in relationships/friendships… a lot of unnecessary problems due to my inability to make a decision. Frankly, there are many reasons for why I won’t decide… either:
A) I know what I want but don’t want to say it B) I really don’t care what happens C) I am too scared of the outcome so I just don’t want to face it to make a decision.
However, to move on in life, you must decide. You must not only decide, but to live an unregretful, happy, free life, you must decide and be accepting of where these decisions take you. So basically it is one of the most important things to be able to do.
It has taken me 22 years to get to this point, and I really don’t think it is something I will ever master. It is something that I will always struggle with. Yes, it’s okay, yes it is frustrating, and yes I would like to be better at making decisions (not in the sense that I make bad decisions, just that I am physically unable to make one).
The most important thing is that you make the choice, you are aware and accepting of the outcomes, and that you understand that everything is happening, everything is unfolding for a bigger and better purpose.
In a sum, this is the checklist that I use…when facing a choice.
1. Little stuff: A lot of the little stuff I pander over… and it comes to the point where I need to just tell myself, it doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter what color shoes I wear, or if my hair curls perfectly, or what I pack for lunch. Deciding how something should be that is surperficial, on the surface, should be the least of your worries and is defintiely not a matter of fate. So when it comes to this, I try to limit my options. I try to say, well despite the 456 pairs of shoes/heels/boots.. whatever! in my closet, I will make an outfit work with only 2 of these. As silly as this may sound, it is what I need to do when ordering food, drinks, candy bars. Ultimately, you know what you want, you know what will satisfy or quenchwhatever needs to be quenched. The first step is admitting that that is what you want, accepting the reasons that you don’t want it (the candy bar will make me fat.. i’ll be the tallest ones in heels), and then own the decisions you make. Even though it is so little, if you are not comfortable when making decisions on such small things like this, how will you ever be on big obstacles? You need to master knowing how to make a decision so that you can trust that you will make the right one. Once you choose the right candy bar enough times, trust me, you know.
2. Marginal stuff: This falls into short term/medium term decisions. Such as… what will you do this weekend? Will you go to Joe’s party, or Kara’s, or both or neither? Will you get drunk, or will you have a snuggly weekend of reading? Should you text him OMG?
Again, stuff that is not necessarily substantial, but to you, in this moment, may feel so important, or the end of the world. It is not anything superficial in material, but superficial in meaning. What you need to ask yourself is, well, how it looks in the big picture. Do you really want to go to Joe’s, or are you going because you feel bad because you keep ditching him etc. etc. It’s so much easier to strip everything away from the big picture and just look at it bare, as it is, with nothing else but the honest truth. Nothing else but what you are trying to hide from. So yeah, sometimes its an easy answer… duh, why wouldn’t I. But as soon as you have a hesitation, as soon as you start to come up with another excuse- then look at the underlying reason for that. Because again, I guarantee there is one there, and I guarantee when you look at it in its rawness and pureness it will be much clearer for what you need and want to do.
3. The big stuff : Okay, so no, I don’t mean what you should wear on the date with Paul tonight. No I don’t mean if you should break up with him, or stop being friends with her, because they gave you a bad look. These are questions like… do I move across the country? Do I quit my job? Do I go back to school? Should I move out? Questions that you don’t necessarily want to admit right away, or shouldn’t admit. Questions that need some thinking.
For questions like these, my typical approach is to ask EVERYONE, mom, boss ,friends, dogs, what they think I should do. Most of the time, I hear what I don’t want to hear, which is the whole point of asking for advice anyways, right? I then ask the experts (ie, if i am looking at grad schools, I make 45 informational interviews with doctors etc.) and see if they can sway my decision at all. And 9 times out of 10, I end up doing what I originally was going to do.
I have since found an easier and less painful way of getting here.
You must really only ask, or think one thing. Will this make me happy? Will this make me happier? The change that this brings about… will it increase my happy meter?
To back track a bit, imagine Sims (or see my previous post). If you don’t know what Sims is, shame on your childhood (google it). In Sims, each person had a running meter of their happiness, love life, work life, friend life, fun life etc. And whenever they weren’t having enough fun, it would go in the red zone and you’d lose points. Whoever created this mindset, is a genius! I now think of everything in my life in Sim points. Here’s how it goes..
Whenevermaking a decision- more pertinent to the big ones, but also to the small, just ask yourself this one question. Will it make my happy meter go up? If it doesn’t, then DON’T do it. Of course some decisions will make your happy meter go down, then back up. Which is fine, you do need to look at it in the big picture. However, if you can make this decision, and make your happy meter go up consistently, then your path to good decision making, and happy decision making, and not having any regrets, will be paved very clearly.
Now one may say, okay, so when a drug addict wants another dosing, he says yes because it makes him happier? FALSE. This is when you need to look at it either in Sims, or in your true raw happiness. Any drug addict knows that it is only a temporary high, but that they are using the drug to fill a void, to cover something up. They may not see it that way, or admit it, but it is there. If you consistently make decisions that make your happy meter go up, and KEEP it up, then this will work (also refer to my previous post).
It has truly changed my life. Yes, I still am often incapable of making decisions, but mostly when they involve ANOTHER persons happiness. That’s when it gets a little foggy because it is a selfish way of thinking. However, it does not have to be. You can use this to incorporate others. For example, if I am choosing whether to stay at home, or drive the 2 hours to Boston to see my boyfriend, and all I want to do is relax- that’s when you have to weigh in the fact that seeing him will probably outweigh the 2 hour drive, and you will end up having that relaxing feeling once you are with him. It is easy to incpororate those factors into your happy meter.
On a last note on decision making from the book “Incognito- The secret lives of the brain” by David Eagleman, he had a great quote on making decisions.
“….studies led researchers to propose that the feelings produced by physical states of the body come to guide behavior and decision making. Body states become linked to outcomes of events in the world…..sometimes the trick is merely to probe what your gut is telling you. So the next time a friend laments that she cannot decide between two options, tell her the easiest way to solve her problem: flip a coin. She should specify which option belongs on heads and which on tales. The important part is to assess her gut feeling after the coin lands. If she feels a subtle sense of relief at being “told” what to do by the coin, that’s the right choice for her. If, instead, she concludes that its ludicrous for her to make a decision based on a coin toss, that will cue her to choose the other option.”