Make Yourself a Decisive Person

Putting off big decisions is harder than making them.

Here’s why.

When you put off a decision, you feel the lack of respect that comes from refusing to “step up” and take command of your own life. Think of how little you respect someone else who refuses to face facts or make decisions. It’s no different when you’re doing the same.

Once you make a decision, there’s no more uncertainty. You will find out what’s different, and the same, about what you expected the consequences of the decision to be. In many cases, you’ll find that some or most of the bad things you expected to happen do not happen. Even when they do, those difficult things are no longer anticipated. It’s easier to deal with things once they actually take place, because you no longer have a choice about them.

When you put off a decision, your life becomes complicated. You have two or more areas of “what if,” in addition to the area of what actually is. While a “what if” area is tolerable and even necessary for a time, there comes a time when you have to take action. Having put the necessary thought into something entitles you to take action.

When you put off a decision for long enough, your life becomes paralyzed. Many areas of your life may be functioning just fine. But the paralysis which comes from the areas of indecision start to take over, and creep into the areas that are working fine. Everything becomes flavored and tainted with uncertainty. You start to question even the certain, because you’re so unresolved about the uncertain. The sad thing is, it’s uncertainty of your own making. By making a decision, once and for all, the indecision could end overnight.

Don’t respond to this by saying, “But you cannot go through life making reckless and impulsive decisions.” Of course you can’t. But this is no excuse for going through life refusing to make a decision at all. Don’t use the reasonable to justify the unreasonable.

You have to be willing to take risks. You have to be willing to make mistakes. Go ahead and embrace the fact that you will sometimes make errors. Use your caution and prudence to make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice, rather than trying to make sure you never make any mistakes at all. You will make mistakes, but you will ultimately profit from some of them if you learn what you need to know.

The biggest cause of indecision is what some call “the Hamlet syndrome.” This refers to the belief that “I can’t do X, because if I do X, then Y will happen. I don’t like Y.” OK then, do something different. “But I don’t like the likely consequences of that option, either.” Indecision is most often caused by the false belief that you can, and should, wait for an alternative with no negative consequences. This will almost certainly never happen.

Waiting does not make for a decisive life. Those who wait will never gain.

What you have to do instead is look for the best available option with the fewest negative consequences. That’s realistic and possible. Waiting for an option with no negative consequences puts your whole life on hold. Having your life on hold is no picnic. People wonder where anxiety and depression come from; this is one of the most common causes. Your whole life becomes tangled in knots because of an unwillingness to decide.

Decisions must be rational. All relevant factors must be weighed before coming to a decision. Reason, not impulse or emotion, must be your methodology. But once you have reasoned out everything you can think of, and know of, then the green light exists to make a decision. Thoughtful, intellectual and sensitive people are the ones who most often forget this. Impulsive people rarely worry that they’re making the wrong decision. Thoughtful people do, which in a way is to their credit; but it also causes them to get in their own way, by delaying action.