01 Sep Hard To Make Decisions?
What to do when it becomes hard to make decisions
Many of my clients report to me that they are finding it hard to make decisions. These can be the big decisions that by their very nature requite a lot of pondering. However, sometimes this can spill over into finding even smaller decisions difficult. They find they can’t choose where to go on holiday, how to spend the weekend or even what they want to do that evening or have for dinner.
It sounds a little feeble, I know, until you’re there yourself. These are dynamic high achievers who are floored by this unnerving indecisiveness. However, it can be a common symptom of the speed and sometimes overwhelming array of choices modern day life gives us. And these are choices we have to pick every day. What do I wear? Where shall I get my coffee on the way to the office? What do I work on first? How shall I reply to that snarky email? And on and on. It’s no wonder that by mid-afternoon we really don’t have the headspace to deal with yet another choice and faced between going for a run or making a trip to the gym, we find it such a hard decision that we abdicate entirely and head home for the sofa.
This non-stop need to make decisions is called Decision Fatigue. Our ability to make decisions fades as we progress through the day. There’s a good explanation of it here, but basically it was found that judges deciding on the fate of prisoners facing parole were more likely to give that parole earlier in the day, when the judges had the better ability to consider the case. Later in the day, the decision would be more likely to be no parole.
It also has implications for will-power. psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, who coined the term, discovered that the more we use our self-discipline to make decisions (I won’t even go near that box of doughnuts in the office), the more likely it is that we exhaust that will-power and give in to a microwave carbonara in the evening. But, back to decisions…
From my observation, finding it hard to make decisions can also be a sign that you are worried or ruminating about something big, such as whether you should leave your partner. This inability to decide what to do seeps into other areas of your life, making you feel as though you are indecisive. So, what to so? Here are some ideas…
- Find a coach who can help you work through your big issue or streamline your life so it’s not one mess of draining decisions
- Take some of the decisions out of your life. Put your gym bag in the car or by the door. Stop pressing snooze and get up. Every day. Build habits that make your day easier and more predictable. Sounds boring? It means you can focus your attention on the things that matter.
- Think about the important daily things such as finding something healthy for dinner early in the day
- Get in the habit of making quick decisions – Italian rather than French wine – and trust your judgement
- If it’s a tricky decision, can you leave it until the following morning, when you have more brain-power to put towards it?
- It’s also useful to know that we are hard-wired to feel loss more than gain, and often make decisions based on that. So, the risk of losing £100 is biologically more likely to stick in our minds that the prospect of gaining £100.
When it comes to those big decisions, we will never have all the information necessary to make the “right” decision. All we can do is make a good decision with all the data we have at that time. This may help alleviate the pressure a little. Likewise, asking advice may be useful, to a point, but there will come a time when you need to sit with yourself and decide what it is you want. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the decision, and it’s been going around in your head, try to tune into your feelings. You can do this by closing your eyes and imaging yourself in the future and how you will feel, act or even be with the various options. All too often we try and think ourselves out of an issue when sometimes feeling can be just as effective.
Want to work with me on a decision or general indecisiveness? Contact me here.