An average day is made up of many decisions.
What should I eat? What should I wear? What should I buy? Where should I go? What should I do? What should I say?
For some people, these kinds of decisions are no big deal. For anyone like me, even the smallest of decisions become something to analyze and second guess.
I'm not sure why I have such a hard time making a choice about something as simple as what I should eat for dinner. When I'm out to eat, I typically have to ask what everyone else at the table is eating first before I decide for myself. I think it comes back to my commitment issues. Those damn commitment issues are at the root of all of my problems! I don't like being tied into a decision. What if I change my mind? What if the other option was better for me? What if I decide to do one thing and miss out on something great because I went in the wrong direction?
And these are just the simple choices in life. What about when it comes to my career? Which path should I choose and what projects should I fill my free time with? What should I spend money on? What shouldn't I spend money on? Where should I live? What kind of person do I want to be?
I'm not even going to bore you with the thousands of questions that fly through my mind when I start thinking about my love life, dating or the kind of person I want to be with.
After doing some research, I realize that good decision making is a skill that some people are simply born with. For others like me, it requires some work. And because we are faced with so many choices even more so now today than ever before, good decision making skills are becoming vital to your personal happiness and success.
So what are people like me to do? Here are some things I've found to be helpful when I'm facing a new decision, whether it be to take on that new job or what to order from the menu in front of me.
Don't Focus On Missed Opportunities
I think the hardest part of any decision if worrying that you're going to choose the wrong answer and miss out on a great opportunity. Any time we make a decision and go in one direction, we close the door on other possibilities. That's a difficult thing to do for anyone. One thing I've learned over the course of the past year is that the more time you spend not making a decision because you're worried about closing the door on other possibilities, the more time you miss out on any opportunity at all. Not making a decision leaves you stuck in one place. You're not moving forward that way. We can't be greedy and want it all. Regardless of the decision you make, there are going to be things you walk away from or miss out on. There will be roads that you walk by as you head in a different direction. There will be jobs you take and jobs you don't. There will be loves you leave behind and love you find. Don't get caught up in the "what ifs" in the moment. Focus on what will make you the happiest without hurting those around you and you can't go wrong. Let go of the worry. Let go of anything holding you back from the past. Live in the present and what you want for yourself right now.
Don't Over Analyze
This one takes some work, especially for anyone like me. I over-analyze EVERYTHING. It's one of my worst habits and one I wish I could kick. I'm working on it and getting better at it, but it's still one I struggle with. Some of the best advice I can offer? Don't overthink your decisions. It's good to rationalize choices and talk them out with others, but sometimes talking or thinking them to death leads to more confusion than clarity.
Trust Your Gut Instinct
I'd say nine times out of ten, my natural instinct or intuition is right about any given situation or decision. My nasty habit of second guessing and questioning myself kicks in and sometimes I go against that intuition and afterward end up kicking myself for not listening to it in the first place. Don't ignore your instincts. They are your natural reactions to people, environments and choices. I try not to be emotionally reactive to things anymore because it leads to impulsive choices, but I try to tune into my gut instinct and let my intuition and brain do the talking instead of my heart. It's not always easy, but I find it typically results in a much happier ending.
Accept That Things Will Go Wrong
Sometimes we make choices and things don't go according to plan. That doesn't mean we necessarily made a bad choice. Life happens and things change and we have to learn to be okay with them and not blame ourselves. Not everything that goes wrong can lead back to a poor decision. Things happen whether we want them to or not and whether we are prepared for them or not.
This is what I've learned (and my dad will be so proud to hear that I used a baseball analogy here). Life throws curve balls. We've all experienced them. Sometimes it's our third strike and we kick ourselves for choosing to swing, but you should be proud for getting up to bat in the first place. At least you weren't stuck in the on-deck circle, too scared to face the pitcher, or stumbling over which pitches to swing at. Don't get stuck on the sidelines in your life. Don't be satisfied with simply being a bench player. If you never get up to the plate, you never have the opportunity for the base hits in life. If you never take a swing, you'll never experience the heart-racing, adrenaline pumping feeling of hitting a double, triple or home run while the crowd cheers your name. Don't be afraid to strikeout. Even swinging and missing completely teaches you something. And next time you get up, you're prepared for the pitch and a stronger player because of it. Lean in, kick up some dirt, stare the pitcher down and take your swing.