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Understanding Why You Struggle To Make Decisions

Do you understand what a decision is? It’s the conclusion or resolution reached after consideration. It’s also the process of answering a question which means using knowledge and feedback to draw a conclusion.

When you have problems making and sticking to decisions it’s because at least one of these elements are missing. If you look back through decisions (or your lack of them) and look at which bit you got stuck on, there is a highly likely to be a pattern.

  • You may be an over-thinker and questioning and questioning (i.e. ruminating) without coming to a conclusion.
  • You’re a jump the gunner and make decisions in haste that you question afterwards.
  • You may have action issues so the resolution bit doesn’t work and you procrastinate by revisiting the questioning.
  • You may find that you are a responsibility dodger, which can come as a shock to you, but when you look at what ‘answer’ you were waiting on or why there wasn’t a conclusion or why you didn’t take action, there may be a recurrent theme of waiting for the other person to make a move.

Here are how these problems unfold further:

You drew a conclusion or made a resolution without answering the appropriate questions to formulate that decision. Sometimes you’re not tackling the questions you have around the issue; you’re questioning yourself and possibly character assassinating you so it makes it pretty damn difficult to make a decision. You may also be the type that even if you had 99% of the answers, you’d hang yourself on that 1% and decide you couldn’t make a decision.

You might probe around and answer outstanding questions but not draw any conclusion or resolve to do anything because you either don’t like the answer(s) or you doubt your judgement. You may also ‘ask around’ without truly asking and trusting yourself instead.

Sometimes you do a good job of answering the questions and drawing a conclusion and making a resolution but then you undermine it by questioning the decision so the decision is missing the support and commitment it needs.

Many people, especially those with self-esteem issues try to have No Decision Lifestyles because they take ‘mistakes’ and what they perceive as ‘failure’ far too much to heart. Then they have regrets that they didn’t make a decision and so round and round they go.

Often with the fear of failure and mistakes, you will make decisions and stick with them on a long-term basis even though you needed to change course due to information and circumstances that have changed during this time.

I find that people are extreme with decisions – they’re either questioning decisions that they need to leave alone and allow to take hold or they’re sticking with bad decisions.

We also have a nasty habit of putting ‘obstacles’ into our decision making which essentially equal procrastination.

When you don’t make decisions you not only have commitment problems but you have self-esteem issues because the person who treats themselves as a person of value that’s worthwhile and has confidence in themselves makes decisions in their best interests and uses their own eyes, ears, judgement etc., even when some of these decisions will mean facing uncomfortable truths and possibly some short term pain. People with low self-esteem do not look out for themselves enough and make decisions that speak to their ego’s but do not actually take care of them.

You can build your self-esteem by learning how to make and stick to decisions, especially in areas of your life that are causing you great unhappiness because you keep revisiting them out of not trusting yourself. You will also find it a hell of a lot easier to make and stick to decisions if you improve your self-awareness by taking the time to work out what your boundaries, values, needs and expectations are. Use the Who Am I? class from module 3 as well as the work you’ve done on boundaries and values already to get a clearer view of who you are and respect you by making decisions that reflect these.

Think over the last few big decisions you’ve had to make and try to work out which element of the decision you are stuck on and why.

What thoughts come up when you question why you won’t ask enough questions? What are you trying to avoid? What do you think you will prevent by not knowing these answers? What’s basically in it for you? In retrospect, do you understand which outstanding questions surrounded this decision? Be honest. Now be even more honest – based on the information that you have right now, what are your gut responses to these questions? Try to write down whatever comes into your head and try not to over think it. Don’t scratch out anything because that’s a sign of doubting and pushing away information.

How much information do you think that you need to answer a question or draw a conclusion? Let me assure you – it’s not 100%. If you take code red behaviour for instance, that’s about all of the information that you need to make a decision in your best interests – topline data. If you take code amber behaviour, these are indicators. If you take previous experiences of anything similar, it’s also like having a life encyclopaedia to refer to. When you have ‘standout information’ such as these, you can actually judge the situation with very little information and make an exit. Part of the reason why you think you need more information is because you make exceptions to the rule, think your feelings add a new dimension, and you essentially don’t trust you and have enough boundaries. I would use this opportunity to genuinely evaluate why you think that you need as much information as you do. The easiest way to see this – if you had let’s say 30% information at one point and then you had 70% information at another point, is the bottom line any different to when you had less information? If all that’s different is that you feel more certain about it, the issue is not gathering more information but trusting you and have clear boundaries and deal breakers.

What is stopping you from drawing a conclusion? What are you afraid of? What are you pushing away? If you take the information from the questions, what conclusion would you draw and what actions would be expected to result from that? Whatever that is, that is why you’re afraid of drawing a conclusion. Now ask yourself what’s so bad about having to take those actions when the alternative is to ignore the information and end up unhappy anyway?

What is stopping you from honouring the conclusion? If you’re not seeing decisions through, what fears and doubts come up that have you doing a U-turn? Use the Doubt Buster and Fear Busting guides from your course page.

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