A lot of clutter and paper pile ups are due to people not wanting to make a decision. Many decision making problems stem from the worry that you will make the "wrong" decision. Things need to be done perfectly and you need to stay in control at all times. So you procrastinate.

But, not making a decision is costly. You are staying stuck. You miss opportunities. You waste time. You annoy people.

We need to remember that most of our daily decisions are reversible. If things don’t go how you would like, you can change direction.

So the first thing, is to change thinking from, "I have to get this decision right" to "There is no right decision. I will either get the outcome I want or I will have learned what doesn’t bring me my outcome."

This is one of my favorite decision making tools, the Six Hats.

I also like to brainstorm and research many different options. But, I limit my research time to a specific time or I would spend hours doing the research for one little decision.

Base your decision making time on how important the decision to make is. Many people, especially perfectionists, give all decisions the same weight. That’s because they think they can’t make any mistakes – even with the clothes they put on in the morning.

Once you decide, take action. If decisions don’t bring you the results you want, learn from it, correct it right away and move on. Most things take trial and error to create the outcome you want. No one gets it right all the time. And this is not a bad thing. Who do we think we are, Masters of the Universe?

Let’s say you need to choose a new bank.

You research the local and online banks. You talk to a banker friend. You know what are the most important things you want in your bank.

Now this is where many people waffle. What if I choose the wrong bank? What if I end up moving banks again? And they sit on the decision so long they could have moved banks 3 or 4 times by now.

So choose the bank that comes closest to looking like it will meet your needs. Do the 6 hats exercise from above.

Move banks.

You will either like the bank. Or you decide it is letting you down and move banks again.

Now not all decisions are simple or easy to make. And some can have consequences you don’t want. But, most of the time not deciding isn’t the answer. We have to make the best decision we know how, with the information we have and take action.

Don’t let fear stop you from making decisions. You won’t figure everything out in this lifetime. But, you will be further away from knowing what works, if you don’t make decisions and don’t take action.

Strengthen your decision making muscle by starting small. What are some little decisions you have been putting off?

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  • Alissa

    What a great post – this pretty much describes me perfectly… I know that I am a perfectionist, and that I struggle with making the “right” decision. I agonize over everything… even what I should order off the menu if we go out for dinner! I know this is the biggest reason I procrastinate… and that I need to just get in there and take action. I’m slowly getting my life in order, but there are still some big things that I am putting off.

    I will try to keep this post in my mind tomorrow, maybe it will give me the encouragement I need to tackle some things on my to-do list. ๐Ÿ™‚


  • Audrey

    I found you through MommyFest. Even though itโ€™s long over, Iโ€™m still reading blogs, meeting others and enjoying the blogs Iโ€™m finding.

    I love your post. I’m huge on making decisions. Every day, we get to decide so many things. I tell my kids quite often “choose again”. Not every choice will be the perfect choice, so choose again. Awesome blog post.

  • Meme

    I have often thought along these lines but have never explored it enough to give my self help to move on- I usually use the words ”unsure” what to do with it so generally end up doing nothing but keeping it – I will have to work on this area this week-
    huggs Meme

  • Ruth

    I like the way you think. ๐Ÿ™‚ I know for me that I agonize over every little decision, and it makes me realize that life would be so much simpler if I’d just decide to go with my first instincts. I’ve been reading this really cool book by Bob and Melinda Blanchard about making life changes and nothing really gets done until you make a decision first.

  • Steve

    All those points are good ones she makes. However another problem is I notice for me is that as I get older and time becomes less and less that the pressure to make the right decision the first time grows. So the room to fix mistakes deminishes if a wrong choice is made, so taking chances gets more difficult. How does one put in perspective the continual loss of time. I am middle aged. We only have one life to live. If that life is wasted how can you face death at the end.

  • Karen

    I agree with Steve, the older I get, the harder it gets. I am to the point that I struggle with the most insignificant decisions. I really thought that it would get better with age, but itโ€™s not!
    It’s awful, now I worry that I will spend my old age not being able to enjoy anything!

  • Lily

    I wish that I could have followed the advice of choosing to make a decision even if it turns out to be wrong. I was one of those people with a lot of interests but not any real passions. No clear direction that I knew I wanted to take my life. I procrastinated starting college because I hoped that ‘the answer’ to what I should be would come to me. I hated the jobs I could get, so I did actually go to college for about a year, taking some basic stuff and trying out a possible career path. I got disappointed and burned out trying to work full time and go to college full time, and not sure what I wanted anyway, I chose the priority of work. Besides, I was pretty, so surely I’d find a good husband to take care of me. None of that happened. I am now in my 40s, stuck in a field that my mother enjoyed simply because she was there to teach me bookkeeping. I am a creative person, not a logic-numbers person, but have yet to discover ‘the answer’ for my purpose. Now it is too late to do anything different. I’m a single parent and can’t afford to start a new career path. So instead I’m stuck completing an accounting degree that I really don’t feel passionate about, simply for the money. It sucks. I wish when I was younger that I’d have known I’d never hear that voice that said ‘become this’ and that I’d just chosen something: writing, music, television, graphic design… anything remotely in my creative nature. I waited to make a decsion. Now the decision is made for me. I’ve wasted most of my life and what is left, at least career-wise, is no more than an empty pursuit of income.

  • Gillian

    Hi Lily, please don’t be so discouraged. Many people change their careers at your age too. But perhaps you don’t need to change your career. You are currently investing in a degree, and it will help you with your work. Perhaps the ‘ideal’ is to have a job that one is passionate about, but the reality is that many people find their fulfillment in other areas. Can you find your fulfillment after hours in writing poetry or a screenplay, or a blog, cooking or with your family? Most people, however much they enjoy their work have days where ‘it’s just a job’. I also know some artistic types and it can be stressful for them to ‘be creative’ to a schedule. For myself, when work just feels like work it helps that I’m involved in things outside of it and have an art class I go to weekly. Perhaps give yourself permission to just try a few things out, and have some time weekly specifically doing something you enjoy.

  • Beth Dargis

    I agree with Gillian, Lily. Keep trying stuff during your leisure time and maybe you’ll find something(s) that sing to you to do when the kids are out of the house. Or as a side job that can grow into a career. Or that just lights you up outside of work hours. And you can always find positives in the work you are doing and how you are helping others even if it’s not your ideal work.

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