“Do you like it? Should I buy it?” asked Flora, displaying the finely tailored black coat she was trying on. “I like it,” said her friend Anna, “but it’s your choice to make.” Weakened by indecision, Flora placed the coat back on the rack and left the store.
They were home not 15 minutes when Flora exclaimed, “I should have bought that coat!” They returned to the store the next morning, but it was too late. The coat was gone-sold to someone else.
WHEN you are confronted with a personal decision, do you struggle painfully, procrastinate, and finally ask someone else to decide for you? And after the decision is made, do you keep wondering if a different choice would have been better? If so, you can probably identify with Flora’s experience above. You know how difficult decision-making can be.
Nevertheless, you can learn to make decisions with greater ease and pleasure. How?
Reduce Your Anxiety
When struggling with a decision, do you anxiously fuss over making the right choice, as if only one option could succeed? If so, you will be happy to learn that this is rarely necessary. The book Overcoming Indecisiveness, by Dr. Theodore Isaac Rubin, points out: “It almost always is the decision maker and not the particular choice that makes the decision work. . . . The failure of the decision has little or nothing to do with the choice. The failure is directly traceable and proportional to lack of dedicated commitment.”
Yes, in most cases, an option can succeed if it is tenaciously pursued. So wholeheartedly support the decision that has been made. This will reduce much of the tension associated with decision-making.
But how can you actually make the decision itself?
This is important, especially if you are dealing with a decision having long-term features: making a major purchase; selecting a home, a career, a marriage mate. Fight any tendency to allow your mind to jump worriedly from one thought to another. First, collect the facts you need. Then, on paper, list your options. Take each option, and list its advantages and disadvantages, comparing these with your needs. If you know yourself-your personal preferences, values, priorities, strengths, and weaknesses-you are in a position to see which option satisfies your most important needs.
Unless you are facing an immediate deadline, take time to allow your true feelings to surface. Rushing the process will only suppress your decision-making faculties. Actually, spending several days, weeks, or even months mentally living with each option, one at a time, may be enjoyable. Dr. Harold H. Bloomfield notes: “Many people think anxiety, worry, and tension are unavoidable as long as they’re struggling with a problem or decision.” But you do not have to postpone happiness until your decision is settled. You can choose to enjoy the decision-making process itself. It is a part of life that is both challenging and rewarding.
‘But I’m Still Confused!’
What if, after giving systematic thought to your options, you are still undecided? What can you do? Should you seek help from a friend?
Some people, lacking confidence, always want others to decide for them. Of course, if you are dealing with a matter that requires more than your scope of knowledge and experience, then your seeking advice from a qualified person would not be an abdication of responsibility. Those who have successfully made decisions similar to yours may provide additional options and facts to help you. (Proverbs 15:22) However, the person whose assistance you seek will take your request more seriously if you have first thought matters through to the best of your ability.
If making a final choice is hard, remember that decision-making almost always involves taking risks. If you are afraid to make a choice until you are absolutely certain of success, you will remain indecisive, for many decisions involve uncertainty and must be made on the basis of probability. (Ecclesiastes 11:4) In most cases, no one option has every advantage. No matter what choice you make, there will be something to sacrifice. So make the choice that is most likely the best, and . . .
Support Your Decision!
Resist the temptation to second-guess your decision once it has been made. Remember, every time you mentally indulge in ‘maybe I should have,’ you rob yourself of strength that could be used to support your decision and make it work. So do not keep looking back, wondering how things might have turned out had you made a different choice. Unless clear evidence emerges that proves a change of mind is necessary, leave your rejected options behind. Put your energy behind your decision.
To summarize: Think systematically, select the option most likely to succeed, and support that choice wholeheartedly. Inevitably, some of your decisions will turn out better than others. Nevertheless, your ability and confidence will grow as you accept the responsibility of making and supporting personal decisions.