How can I overcome indecisiveness?

Short answer: Simplify your decision-making process by reducing the number of options you are considering.

Why is this important?

  • The more options we have, the more time we will need to pick one (f.ex., “I want the chicken sandwich, but the tuna sandwich looks great and so does the one with grilled vegetables!”)
  • We drain our willpower on making one decision (especially if it is not that relevant, f.ex., debating which outfit to wear) when we should really be using it to choose what’s more important (estimating how much time it will take to complete a project).
  • We reduce ourselves to just being reactive (“Look at all this work my manager wants me to do! How will I cope?”) instead of getting proactive and being in the driver’s seat (“All right, I have a lot of work to do. Now I’m going to prioritize and see what needs to be done first, then I’ll do the less important stuff later to maximize my time”).

How can you overcome indecisiveness?

Try this:

  • Reduce your number of options to two: eliminate what’s unnecessary, what will likely cost more either in time or in money, and what you are considering only for emotional reasons.
  • Make a list of pros and cons for each option: Take 5 minutes to do this. Keep the list short, so you don’t waste time (f.ex., list the top 3 advantages and disadvantages of each).
  • Select the option that has the most pros (and ideally the least cons).
  • Then, don’t second-guess yourself. Be committed to the decision you made. It will teach you to trust yourself.

What are some examples of simplifying your decision-making?

  • Know in advance which 5-minute breakfast you will make in the morning.
  • Prepare what you’re going to wear for work or school the night before.
  • Buy most of your food in one grocery store.
  • When eating dinner with friends, select only two places for eating out, then take a vote.
  • When you want to read 5 books and don’t know which to pick first, go with the one in which the first sentence gets your attention the most.
  • When you wake up every morning, don’t contemplate all of the things you need to do that day, and instead start your day with this question: “What is the ONE thing I am committed to completing today?”
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