Decisions are choices we make throughout the day, every day.
Everyone has times when decision making is difficult and causes a bit of stress, but occasional difficulty making decisions isn’t a major issue.
The problem occurs when you find yourself constantly unhappy with what is going on around you – especially when it seems like everyone else is having all the fun.
You may have developed a way of making decisions that is not in harmony with your deeper values. This is effectively a coping strategy and you can recognise a coping strategy because it does not have a future vision.
Common coping strategies are:
1) Freeze and take no action
The people who freeze may be taking no action but they have not stopped dwelling on it. The decision turns in their mind causing anxiety and discomfort. They may secretly be hoping that the decision will go away. Sometimes it does – if an offer runs out for example, then the choice has been taken away from them and they breathe a sigh of relief and blame circumstances for not letting them get what they wanted.
These people can wake up in ten years time and be devastated at how time and opportunity has slipped by.
2) Do something – anything!
The people who do something, anything, are determined not to let life slip by. But by making rash or impulsive decisions, they let go of the reins, make poor emotion-triggered choices and can end up somewhere they did not really want to be. Impulsiveness can be a great quality – after all, life would be dull if you ran your days to a strict agenda. The kind of impulsive behaviour that becomes a problem is when decisions are driven by a subconscious fear or some kind of avoidance.
These people can wake up in ten years time angry at how all their efforts came to nothing.
3) Let someone else make the decision
The people who let someone else make the decision fear the responsibility of consequence. As all actions have a consequence, this fear can be particularly crippling as it puts the brakes on action. The reasons are many and varied ranging from having been denied the opportunity to experience having control to hating the potential conflict from wanting something somebody else does not want.
These people can wake up in ten years time totally immersed in a life that is not their own.
The people who give up and resign themselves to their fate have lost their sense of self. Their values have merged with the values of someone they perceive as more powerful – a partner, a religion, a lifestyle or a job. But they take a subservient approach based on the unshakeable certainty that they must yield to the demands of the other. They faithfully trust that the way things are is the way they must be.
These people can wake up in ten years time disillusioned and struggling to find the missing piece they believe will complete them.
Step Into Personal Empowerment
Accepting ownership of consequences and balancing responsibility with your own personal goals lets you overcome stress, enabling you to making empowering decisions.
Become aware of how you are in any given context. Look for a pattern. Be honest with yourself and recognise the pattern. Recognising and admitting you have a pattern that you would like to change is the courageous first step to self-actualisation.
The next thing to do is to examine the engine of this pattern. What are the fears and the behaviours that keep this pattern alive? When do they kick in? What are you thinking? What do you believe? What is the stress you feel?
The final step is to change it. What do you want? What needs to change? What do you need to believe in order to bring out that confident person inside you?
Decisions are your stepping stones through life. Some stepping stones can be wobbly and if you are on a wobbly one and not enjoying it, there is another stepping stone close by waiting for you to recognise it and hop on.
The goal is to take ownership of your decisions and to remember that NOW is the time to fix the next ten years.