Does it sometimes feel like you are being torn apart by your inability to make a decision? Deborah Tan shares the strategy on becoming more decisive and how you can reap huge emotional benefits from not second-guessing yourself every. Single. Time.
Ask many of my friends to describe me and more than half will probably tell you that I am someone who always knows what she wants. Whether it’s staying in a job or leaving it, making a person a friend or turning my back on one, having flowers at my wedding or not having any, decisions come to me easily. This isn’t to say that all my decisions have been right. However, for those who struggle with making decisions, who tend to second-guess themselves, the ability to stay focused and be decisive is a skill that needs developing.
How can one be more decisive? How can you be sure that you won’t regret the decisions you make? Why should you be more decisive?
I guess besides saving yourself oodles of time agonizing over every matter, a more decisive person is also one who is more resilient emotionally. Rather than beating yourself up for every decision that didn’t work out because you could have done A, B, C or D, a decisive person lives and dies by the course she has chosen to take and has no regrets. If things don’t work out the first time, she moves on and learns from her mistakes. Every mis-step is a learning experience, and yes, cliche as it sounds, whatever doesn’t kill her will only make her stronger.
How does one becoming more decisive?
Well, I have 4 strategies to recommend:
1. Identify Your Word
Think about your achievements, your experiences, the moments that made you happy and proud of who you are. If all these could be condensed into ONE single word, what would it be? A friend told me that her word is “Fun”. And it is perfectly acceptable. If your word is “Fun”, it means that whatever course of action you choose to take in future, you need to ask yourself if it will bring you “fun”. If it doesn’t, then you know whether to do it or not. There is no right or wrong word. If the word that drives you is “Money”, then you pretty much know you’ll do whatever it takes to get more of it. When you find yourself vacillating between two decisions, ask yourself which one gives you more of YOUR WORD.
2. Are You Willing To Be Defined By That One Word?
Once you’ve identified your word, you need to ask yourself if you are going to be okay being defined by it, positively and negatively. Don’t choose “Fame” and then get upset when people call you shallow, don’t choose “Balanced” and then get defensive when people say you are self-centered. If you are not willing to be associated with the negative aspects of your word, then you need to go back and ask yourself if you need to find another. I’ve always been someone who is driven by “Ambition”. A long time ago, I had a conversation with a colleague who was thinking of leaving her job, one she was doing well in. After our conversation, I chanced upon her Twitter: she tweeted something about me being a soulless corporate drone. I did not take offense because that is indeed the flipside of ambition and I have to accept the negatives that come with it.
3. Consciously, And Unconsciously, Limit Your Options
I’ve confided in a number of friends that I had enjoyed my wedding tremendously because I wasn’t flushed with money and therefore wasn’t flooded with choices. Without the cash to burn, the options available to us were limited. I liked that I did not have to agonize over whether I should spend $500 on paper fans as wedding favors, I liked that our limited budget kept us focused on the important things. Sure, it feels wonderful to find yourself in a candy shop of choices, to find yourself able to afford many things. But we can’t always have it all and rather than torment ourselves with the What Ifs, why not just narrow down the list and pick from just a few?
4. Move On, Move On, And Then Move On Some More
We all need to learn how to forgive ourselves and sometimes, the best way to achieve that is to move on. If things didn’t work out the way you had envisioned them, it’s really too late to cry over spilt milk. You can choose to let this cripple you and hold you back OR you can choose to move on and deal with life. Hanging on to the past, dwelling on what other people think of you … these things will only promote second-guessing. If you don’t ever want to second-guess your decisions, then take ownership of your f___-ups and move on.
Everyone makes mistakes – just make sure you don’t repeat yours.
About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She has learned, over the years, that she’d rather fail on her decision than succeed doing what others tell her. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.