Updated: Jan 17, 2022
This statement hangs on my computer monitor so I see it every day. It is one of the most important lessons I learned in my own journey and today I want to share why. For as long as I can remember, I have considered myself a Type A, perfectionist, carefully considering options and overthinking many decisions. I almost wore it as a badge of honor - look at how hard I am working to get this right, look at all the data I collected before I decided to take action and on and on. And, then I had my coach say to me one day: "why don't you just make a decision?" as I was endlessly debating what I wanted to do about a goal and my plan to get there.
Wait - what? I don't have all the facts - I don't know what option will get me there fastest or more efficiently or with the best results. How could someone expect me to 'just decide'? Here's the thing though - all that research and contemplating and debating and presenting myself with the various options and data on each of them was just keeping me exactly where I was. I was not moving my goal forward at all. I was just letting my belief that I was this person determine my outcomes (or lack of them!), and I decided that I was ready to change that belief.
So, we started talking about what I was thinking when she asked that question and I realized that I was stuck in this belief that if I made the wrong decision it would be disastrous and it would be completely my own doing for failing to do all the work necessary to get to the best decision. And it was my cycle throughout my life - start a better eating protocol, let me research every option for eating protocols and work on designing my perfect one; buy a new computer, let me compare 27 models and debate the benefits of all of them for months; take a new job, the endless debate of pros and cons nearly pushed me over the edge, so I have no doubt it did to those around me! And the list of examples goes on and on, from minor to major, to silly to serious.
In that moment of considering my belief, I had a thought: freedom is in the decision. You see, I was so hung up on the idea that decisions were restrictive, and that making them was final, like I took all other options away forever, or at least for a really long time. I believed that once I made a decision, I was locking myself into something, even if the decision was something I hated or did not feel right for me, and the fear of that kept me in indecision. Yep, my fear of not liking the decision I was not even willing to make kept me stuck right where I was. And, often, in that indecision, I *thought* I was doing the work and taking action - but endlessly consuming information is not action.
But what if I shifted my thought to once I made a decision, it gave me the freedom to try things, to explore the benefits and opportunities of the decision and to tweak it as needed? Instead of feeling restricted by the decision, I saw the freedom of deciding. I
Now, let's not pretend that I woke up and suddenly became the person who just made decisions quickly - I had to work at it, and I continue to work on it, but I use my little reminder note to help me get unstuck from the endless circle of indecision when I go there. Through the process, I have learned to be willing to make decisions so that I can figure out what works, what doesn't and how to keep progress happening. I have learned that if a decision doesn't work, I can make a new decision (!) and that there is so much more impact to making a decision versus staying stuck in indecision.
So, here are two things I do now in decision making to help create that freedom and ultimately find the path to success:
I rate the significance of my decision: when I find myself debating the decision, or getting stuck in indecision, I do a quick rating on a scale of 1-5, with one being low impact and 5 being significant impact. Anything that is 3 or lower, I decide what I want to do and move on. Anything that is 4 or 5 gets one day to consider options and then I decide.
I leave judgment at the curb: this one takes practice for me. I still find myself having judgment when I make a decision and I think it was not the right one so I now stop and say to myself, "the decision is done, stop the judgment" and then I ask myself what is the next best decision I can make. This is so powerful because it stops me from wasting time overanalyzing something that is already done and helps me refocus on how to keep moving forward.
How can you find freedom in your actions to help propel you forward?