The Secret To Being More Decisive

Jim Woods

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You’ve got to make a choice, but you don’t know what to do. You keep finding yourself going back and forth. You keep rehashing your decision over and over and over.

What can you do? Start by asking yourself the following questions. Answer as honestly as possible for the very best possible results.

Do I have all of the information I need to make a decision?

If you don’t have all of the information you need, it is hard to make a good decision. Try your best to not make quick assumptions. A word of warning though — it is easy to dive deep into research. Don’t allow that to become procrastination. Give yourself some hard limits for finding information, such as a deadline or a timer.

What you would tell your best friend if he or she was in this situation?

This question will give you some perspective. If you are really close to a situation, it becomes hard to think clearly. Outside perspective is very powerful and can allow you to step back shift how you think about the decision.

What is the worst thing that could happen? (Then ask what is the best thing that could happen.)

While this question could lead to negative thinking, it can also help you get a handle for what is really at stake. Are you falling victim to fear-based thinking where you assume that the worst case situation will happen? Then follow up with the positive scenarios. Again, keep in mind that a deadline or a timer can help set limits here.

Are you thinking that there are only two options?

It’s easy to think that there are only two options. A or B. The reality is, you don’t have to make a decision. There are also many other decisions, so it is more like A to ZZZZZ. All or nothing thinking is a myth and greatly limits your options, so be aware when you are falling into that line of thinking.

What story are you telling yourself?

We often tell ourselves things that flat out are not true. For example, if I take this job, I’m going to hate it. You don’t know that. Or maybe you are thinking in the back of your mind that you’ve always been a failure, so whatever you choose now will not work out. Your past is not your future. We all have secret lies and stories that we hold on to in our minds.

Lastly — and probably most importantly — what is your gut telling you?

Your gut will rarely lie to you. Your emotions, sure — they can change and lie to you. You know what to do. And, remember, that not making a decision is a decision. That decision keeps your options open and allows you to say yes to something else. So listen to your gut. When you don't listen to your gut, you basically are telling your brain not to trust yourself. And that's a slippery slope.

The Takeaway

It can be difficult to make some decisions. That’s okay. Choose one or two of the questions above to dig deeper and learn more about the situation. If you still feel stuck, talking to someone you trust can help too. But the truth is, if you really trust your gut, you probably know the choice you want to make. I've been working with a coach for over a year now and that is the biggest takeaway. Don't let the many things like rationalization or people pleasing or fear or worry or stress silence your inner voice. That quiet whisper knows.

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