Today, it is easier than ever to become lost in indecision. We are surrounded by a plethora of choices in all areas of life. They range from choosing your next big career move, to choosing where to live, to choosing what to have for dinner, and everything in between.
The process of choosing which thing to do often takes more energy than doing the thing itself.
For example, try to list out all the options you have to eat dinner tonight. You’ll probably have at least 10 different options in your house, and at least 30 different restaurants to choose from if you want to eat out. Not to mention all the different menu items at each restaurant.
There are far too many options to analyze them all to decide which one is objectively best. Imagine taking each of these options into account and making the best decision. It would take forever, and it would be emotionally draining.
Instead of spending time and energy analyzing the options, simply decide on something. The amount of energy spent going to eat dinner at a specific place after the decision was made is far less than that of the analytical process beforehand.
Once you’ve made the decision, you’re able to ignore the fact that there were other options. Since you’ve chosen one of them, the other ones are no longer options.
This takes a degree of detachment and letting go which can be difficult, but it’s a good exercise to build your decisive muscle.
Acting this way consistently requires a specific realization:
You are the only one who can make your own decisions.
We have trouble deciding because there are ample options to choose from, but it gets even trickier when other people get involved. We begin to lose sight of what our gut tells us in the face of other people’s opinions of us and our choices. We constantly second-guess ourselves and put the focus of our decision-making on the degree to which it affects other people.
I’ve met countless college students who genuinely didn’t know why they decided to go to college. When I dug deeper, I found that most of them didn’t actually make the decision. Their parents made the decision, or their past-self who always wanted to be an engineer made the decision.
You can internalize advice from mentors, get suggestions from your friends, and model your decisions based on people you admire, but in the end, these are all just information – not meaningful action. You’re the one who has to put your next foot forward and initiate if it’s going to stick.
No matter how much you lean on somebody else or defer that tough decision, nobody will drag you forward. You will sit still or move in circles until you, yourself, decide to move.
Once you realize this, you might begin to feel alone. It might be daunting to know that you’re entirely in charge of your life. You might feel like you don’t have a safety net to lean on.
Instead of shying away from this fact, embrace it. It’s powerful to be completely in charge of your own destiny. It means that you will have to make decisions and step into the unknown. Sometimes you will be wrong.
It’s better to decide, move forward, and realize that you were wrong, than it is to avoid decision and stand still. By deciding, you’ve created the opportunity to test an idea, gain a new perspective on it, and learn how to do it better next time.
Decisions are what shape us. Decisions are what build our education. Not decisions that have been made for us, but decisions that we have been empowered to make on our own.
The only way to ensure you won’t move forward is to not decide at all.
Don’t be undecided.