Photo: Vlad Sargu/Unsplash
Being indecisive is a massive waste of time, and it can cost you a lot. Dwelling on all the imaginable outcomes and asking for other people’s opinions will not only cause you frustration, but it’ll also make you waste precious time that you could be investing in doing something productive.
I’m chronically indecisive; painfully so. There are times that I’ve taken so long to make up my mind that I’ve lost the opportunity I was contemplating altogether, or worse, I’ve missed other opportunities in the process. My efforts essentially became sunk costs — irrevocable time.
Even though we might not always recognize it, being indecisive often stems from insecurity; we don’t trust our own judgment, at least not enough to make the decision ourselves. We need reassurance from someone else that our choice makes sense, almost like we’re looking for confirmation that we won’t later be judged for taking a particular course of action.
Essentially, we’re placing trust in other people’s opinions over our own; we’re too concerned about what other people will think. Well, newsflash — if you want to become a better decision-maker, this needs to change. And, in my view, there are two simple reasons why you should stop caring about what other people think.
1. People Will Always Judge You Anyway
My dad very bluntly pointed this out to me at a pretty young age. In an attempt to sugar-coat the harsh truths of the world, he explained it through a story; it goes like this.
A father and his young son were traveling home through the mountains on a mule. Along the way, they crossed several villages. As they crossed the first village, the villagers pointed and said “how awful; to force the poor mule to carry the weight of two people”.
Feeling somewhat ashamed, the father got off the mule and walked alongside. As they crossed the second village, the villagers pointed and said “how awful; that the boy is forcing his father to walk, when he himself is much younger and fitter”.
Feeling somewhat ashamed, the son got off the mule to let his father on and walked alongside. As they crossed the third village, the villagers pointed and said “how awful; that the father would make his own child walk, when his legs are much longer”.
Feeling somewhat ashamed, the father got off the mule. Both the father and the son walked alongside the mule. As they crossed the fourth village, the villagers laughed and said “how stupid; why would they choose to walk all this way when they have a mule?”
The father and his son couldn’t win; they never stood a chance. And, sadly (or not) — neither do you. People will always judge you, especially the more successful you become.
All successful people know that, in order to increase your wins, you’ve also got to increase your losses. If you’re a writer, I’m sure you can relate. The more articles you submit to publications, the more wins you’ll get, but likewise, the more rejections you’ll face. The more followers you attract, the more negative responses you’ll receive in turn.
If you anticipate this judgment when you’re trying to make a decision can paralyze you. It’ll make you waste time and energy for nothing.
It’s not an easy thing to accept, but it’s unavoidable. The sooner you learn to deal with judgment and let it sink into the backdrop of your mind, the sooner you’ll be able to focus on what you have to do for you.
A good way to distance yourself from negative judgments is to build a tight inner network of confidants who support you no matter what. If you need to ask someone, ask them, ignore the haters.
“I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream and support and do things.”― Amy Poehler
2. It’s Your Decision to Make
This point was put to me, even more bluntly than the above, by my good friend Rodi, when he told me he didn’t really care what my opinion was. (I cried a little bit inside.) In fact, he said he didn’t “really” care about anyone’s opinion.
In disbelief, I obviously continued to question him. He explained that one thing is caring to know what someone’s opinion is; another thing is attributing value to that person’s opinion for the purpose of making your own decision.
As educated as someone might be, or as much as you might admire them, nobody has more information than you do about what’s right for you at a particular point in time. You’re in the best position to know how you feel, what you want, where you want to go and achieve, etc… So, as interesting and valuable as someone’s opinion may be, at the end of the day — it’s your decision.
Realizing this sooner rather than later can save you a lot of time. Maybe it’s best not to ask so many people, and if you do, remember to filter their opinions with your priorities in mind.
To finish with a relevant idea from the great Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius,
“If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgment of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgment now.”
It’s in your power to ignore the unhelpful voices of others when tasked with a decision to make. The issue is not in the external but in your mind. So forget the opinions of others and take charge of the only thing you can truly control — your actions.
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