The horns of a dilemma are no place to be. Whatever situation you’re in, feeling unable to make a decision will extend it and prolong the difficulty. The only way to be free is to figure out what you’re going to do.
This is exponentially more true if you feel stuck on a lot of undecided decisions.
Not everyone has an issue with being indecisive. It’s good to appreciate that. I think indecisive people can learn by example, too, and free themselves and the others around them. We have to lower the bar on most decisions and save our mental energy for the big stuff.
You know what I tell people when they’re having trouble figuring out what to do?
If it were obvious, it wouldn’t be a decision!
The only reason it feels hard to make a decision is if there are good reasons for each option, and choosing one cancels the other. The flip side of this is if there are negatives to each choice, if no matter what you pick, there will be some bad outcome for someone.
Not deciding does not, unfortunately, allow you to collect on all possible positive outcomes. Not making a decision also does not help anyone avoid the negatives.
Eventually, this crossroads will be passed, only visible in the rear view mirror... until the next major intersection, that is. The thing about choices is that the same type of decision comes up again and again.
Should we stay together or break up?
Should I stay at this job or leave?
Should I go to this party or stay home?
Should I spend money on this or not?
What should I order off this menu???
Personally, I refuse to bog myself down with petty decisions. I’m never going to spend more than two minutes choosing what I want off a menu, or deciding what to wear. The minute I realize that I’m caught up at a choice point and that I need to make a decision, I’m 90% of the way there. Why would I drag it out and make it worse on myself?
This is a benevolent attitude because nobody around me needs to waste time listening to me try to make up my mind, either. Nothing spreads like stress. I have no way of knowing what other people are going through, and my concern of the moment may be only 1% of the valence of anyone else in my social group.
I actually prefer talking to other people about their problems, rather than talking about my own. It’s a great distraction! Sometimes it gives me perspective or teaches me how to solve an issue later on. Sometimes I can help.
It may be easier to help someone else resolve something. Then maybe you still have your original problem, but you’ve made a difference to someone else, and nobody can take that away.
Everything we do to solve a problem reminds us that problems can be solved. Try to think of a completely unique problem, one that no human in the history of the world has ever dealt with before. If you can, DM me, because I’d love to know!
There are a few heuristics I use when making a decision.
One: Is this problem actually mine, or someone else’s? *drama detector ON*
Two: Is this an animal problem or a human problem? If my dog, a squirrel, or a crow would know how to handle this, then can I?
Three: Can this problem be solved by money? How much?
There are three other things I’ve started doing to preserve my precious mental bandwidth.
Status meeting. My husband and I save all our mutual pending decisions to discuss once a week at Status Meeting. We also share what’s going on in our personal lives, and we’re usually able to help each other make decisions because of our non-overlapping skill sets.
“Decisions” email folder. If it isn’t an urgent, Quadrant I issue, I immediately drag it into the *Decisions* folder. Default to no.
A “Decisions” list in my day planner. This list is the opposite of the email folder. Email comes from someone else and requests your time and attention. My list is self-generated and reflects my own priorities. These are Quadrant II questions, things that could be strategically important and valuable, but will only happen if I choose to put my attention, time, money, social support, and other resources behind them. They also need their proper timing. Often they need research, too, because if I knew how, then I’d already be moving ahead.
It helps to have policies in place for as much as possible. It saves time and makes it easier for others to get along with you, because you are consistent, they know what to expect, and they can plan around you. It also sets the example that they can set their own policies. Example: don’t bother to bring me a coffee, because I won’t drink it, but thanks for the lovely gesture.
A new situation can often generate a new policy. We may sometimes have to learn things the hard way, but at least that bitter experience can help us avoid it happening again.
One of those policies is simply to force yourself to confront your pending decisions. Is it time to change jobs or relocate? Is your budget working? Are you sacrificing your health and peace of mind for something that doesn’t deserve it? Has a relationship reached the end of its natural lifespan? Is a lot of your time disappearing into the ether when you’d rather be doing something more intentional?
Keeping a list of pending decisions is a way of putting your foot down. It’s a way of reminding yourself that if you don’t set your own priorities, someone else will set them for you. Are you getting the rewards of your efforts, or is someone else? Are you heading toward the outcomes you’ve chosen for yourself, or blowing around like a tumbleweed? Exert your free will and confront your pending decisions today.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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