4 Things To Do When You’re Struggling To Decide (365 Days of Spirited Living — DAY 337)
“More choices in a limited time didn’t mean you could do everything; it meant you could do anything, so you probably did nothing, frozen with indecision.”
— Brent Weeks
Indecision is one of the most difficult places to be in. That space in between where you are and where you’re trying to go is like being in limbo. Limbo is worse than never leaving and never arriving. Limbo is getting stuck in the “in between”. Any possibility that might exist is almost completely erased when we get to the point where we can’t decide.
If the NSA snooped through your calendar, Evernotes, text messages, emails and online browsing history for the past year, what do you think they would find about your level of productivity and priorities? Did you check off on all your short-term and long-term goals? Or will they find a lot of things that are simply not complete or never started simply because you could not make a decision?
I’m afraid that indecision renders us immobile and robs us of the success we could have. We don’t have to let indecision control us, though. We may not have all the information we would like to have up-front or know both sides to every story, but we can lessen the time we spend in those in between parts of life. Here are 4 things you can do when you’re struggling to make a decision:
1. Create a list of what you’re not going to do.
Creating a list for most people is a boring task. Almost every how-to article or book begins with the importance of developing a list of things you’re going to do. Lists have their benefits. But in this case, create a list of the things you’re not going to do and the things you don’t want in life. Listing all of your dislikes rules these things out as options and will help you feel like you’ve made some progress. So for starters, if you hate science, being a biology lab director is most likely not in your future. The very first step in discovering what you want to do in life and what you want to get out of life is making it clear, in your mind at least, the things you don’t want. Weeding out the unnecessary will help you to focus on the particulars.
2. Cut yourself some slack.
We all face times in life when we are simply stuck between two equally good options or when our minds are blank and we just have no idea as to the next step we should take. Instead of beating yourself up, give yourself a break. Cut yourself some slack and go and do something that will take your mind off of the indecision that you’re facing. Go watch a movie with a friend. Hang out at the beach with your significant other. Eat a cupcake. I take that back. Eat two cupcakes. Spend a few hours reading or just walk from one end of the mall to the other. Whatever you do, make sure it is not directly tied to the decision you’re trying to make. Surprisingly, after a good physical, mental, and even an emotional break, when you get back to your desk, you will more likely be able to think clearer, focus intently, and make the right decision you are capable of making.
If we’re honest, it can feel at times like the world is on our shoulders. It can feel like we don’t have enough time or energy or resources or money or ability to do all the things we think we need to do. It can also feel suffocating especially when we’re not getting support or help from friends, family, and co-workers. When you start to feel like this, it’s good to cast our cares on a friend or a parent who will actually listen, but the best thing to do is to pray. God can carry all our burdens far easier than we can. In fact, He holds the entire world in the palm of his hand and if he can do that every single day for billions of people on the planet, I’m sure he can hold you up and take on all of your problems. Prayer might not change your situation or your feelings of being overwhelmed immediately, but it will make you feel so much better.
4. Write a letter to yourself.
I thought I would never do this. But recently when I changed ages somewhere along the continuum of the twenties, I wrote a letter to myself. A long, deeply honest, serious letter to myself. I posted it up online so you can go and read it if you care to do so. (I’m not with the whole mailing a letter to yourself thing.) But somewhere along this journey called life, when I’m fifty perhaps, I will be searching for things online and come across my letter and will read it and I’ll either slap myself for not reaching my goals or pinch myself for actually doing it. The point of writing a letter to yourself is to remind you of how far you have come, how things change, and how much you have grown. You might feel stuck right now and not know which way to turn, but years from now, you will look back and realize that everything you experienced was for a good reason.
“Indecision and fear can cripple any chances of succeeding and lead to maelstroms of regret that fuel our most fantastic nightmares.”
— Marty Rubin