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WHAT KIND OF PERSON ARE YOU WHEN IT COMES TO DECISION-MAKING?
Are you comfortable choosing and sticking to a certain outcome or are you driven by fear you could end up deciding for the wrong thing?
For the longest time, I dreaded any decision I had to make. I got caught up in what is called nowadays “overthinking”.
Mostly because I was anxious to miss out on anything (oh, hi FOMO!) in case I decided wrongly, I feared other people’s opinion about my choice or I was influenced by circumstances, that really had nothing to do with me but other peoples’ lives.
Slowly but surely, I learned how wholehearted decision-making improves my life significantly. I learned how to stop overthinking in order to accomplish that.
And I learned, that by actively choosing the one thing, I really want, I would develop myself into the kind of person I always aspired to be.
TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF DECISION MAKING
1. THE MEASURABLE DECISION
The ones you can make using your rationale mind e.g. everything that can be measured.
If you had to choose between two identical looking suitcases with the same price and features except for the weight, you’ll probably end up choosing the lighter one.
2. THE NON-MEASURABLE DECISION
And then there are decisions to make based on your personal preferences and values.
What kind of food do you like? Where do you want to live? Do you want to marry and have kids? Who’s your ideal partner? Which job is the right one for you?
Those are the decisions where there’s no ‘best’ or ‘worst’. The outcome or alternatives are simply different. And you get to create and choose the reasons that are important only to you (and no one else) for deciding the way you do.
WHY MAKING DECISIONS FEELS LIBERATING
Once you decide on something and stand by it, then any other alternative is no option anymore. It equals freedom.
This is a very powerful thought, since you chose this certain scenario yourself rather than letting circumstances influence you or other people decide for you.
11 TIPS ON HOW TO STOP OVERTHINKING
Here are a few things I learned so far:
- With non-measurable choices, there’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ decision. Whatever you end up choosing based on the reasons that are important to you, is the direction that your life is going to head.
And that’s a good thing, because you’re in control!
Enjoy the situation you’re in if you took the decision consciously (e.g. not going out on a Friday night to work on a project that’s important to you instead of heading to the club with your friends).
Pro tip: Ignore all the social media crap especially the morning after your friends went out and it’ll be much easier for you.
- You’re not God and you cannot live in different universes to first try how a situation would play out based on one of your options. Not. Happening.
So, since you’ll never experience the alternative, you can’t know anyway, how a situation will turn out, if you choose a different option. Make peace with that.
Block the #FOMO out of your life and you’ll be happier in the long-term. It’s all a mind game so better start learning how to play it and get real good at it.
- Once you decided, stop romanticizing alternative options and don’t play the ‘what if I had…’-game. That’s the worst – pardon my French – mindf*ck you can do to yourself.
It’s not useful whatsoever and only taints your day with a negative mood. What’s done is done. Get over it and move on.
Remind yourself: You can’t change the past, but you can create your future.
- You don’t like where you’re at right now in life? But you’re too much inside your head instead of taking any action?
Only one way out of that dilemma: You need to get out of your head and take action. Start by assessing the situation you’re in right now, write down your ideal future self.
Outline a plan with milestones on how to get there and then take the steps, you need to in order to get a tiny bit closer to the future you want for yourself.
You lack the motivation? Read everything about how to be motivated AF every day here.
- Don’t let others decide for you. I repeat myself (but whatever, this is important): It’s YOUR life! No one else lives through your unique situation, no one else knows what it’s like to be you.
By all means, yes, ask for the opinion of people you trust, friends, family, knowledgeable colleagues, your boss, you get the point. In the end YOU need to make a call and you need to live it, no one else.
- Do not NOT take a decision to let random circumstances decide. This way you give up the control over your life.
And: Not making a decision is still making a decision i.e.: Not to make one.
- You don’t have to decide every little aspect, sometimes it’s also quite relieving to simply not give a f*ck about certain things.
We’re talking about important, maybe even life-changing decisions in this post, not about the tiny little, possibly annoying things in life that won’t make a difference no matter if you make a decision or not.
- Decide within a set timeframe instead of dragging the situation on with no end in sight.
Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to think about your situation, analyze your options e.g. through some research or writing a list (but don’t get too caught up in it aka no time for analysis paralysis!) and then: Decision making time baby!
- You’re someone who likes to make pro/con lists? Cool, me too! Jot down all the facts in favor of and against your decision. What does the list say? How do you feel about it?
Once I’m done with my list, here’s what follows: I say the obvious decision out loud. Do I feel good saying it? Great, time to get going.
If I feel funny about it though, I immediately know, that I secretly favor the other option, or that something else is going on, that I haven’t taken into account yet.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO GIVE A SH*T ABOUT EVERYTHING
Sure, there are things you simply don’t care about, and that’s ok.
When you’re sitting in a restaurant with a group of friends and you’ll have a family-style dinner, maybe you like all the food items on the menu and don’t mind letting your friends decide what to order.
That’s fine. As long as you do make the decisions that are important to you in life.
Listen to your inner voice(s) (maybe there’s more than one ;)). Deep down inside, there’s usually the one choice hidden, that feels right.
The decision might be tough, daunting or even painful, so forget the moral judgement and the ‘what would my parents/friends/partner say to this’ as well as the potential public shaming for a second.
This is your life and no one else but you should make that call.
WEEKLY NUGGETS OF WISDOM
Here’s this week’s list full of inspiring content about “Confident Decision Making & How to Stop Overthinking” – enjoy!
An amazing book about the human decision-making process and the neuroscience behind it.
Never give you up by Raphael Saadiq.A beautiful and kind of sensual soul piece featuring Stevie Wonder that transfers you into another world (no matter the mood you’re in).
Also one of those songs, that I listen to on repeat from time to time. It helps to put yourself into a happy place when you’re struggling with a hard decision; take a time-out and that song will help you feel more positive.
How to make hard choices by Ruth Chang.This TED Talk is about 15 minutes long and especially in the last 5 minutes philosopher Ruth Chang will enrich your life through her wise words. Please watch it till the end.
If decision making has not been your thing until now, start with something small.
I don’t remember the movie, but this scene stuck with me: The main female character realizes, that she doesn’t know her favorite breakfast egg dish, because she had always chosen the same one as her ever-changing boyfriends.
She then prepares all those different varieties of breakfast eggs to find out her real personal favorite.
Even deciding something ordinary as your favorite breakfast dish will help you to develop into the person you want to be. What’s your favorite?
Thanks for reading!