Did you know the App Store carries decision-making apps? You simply type in all your options and watch the wheel go around and land randomly on one and then… do you eliminate or select that one?
Making decisions isn’t easy, but we face them daily. From deciding which restaurant to go to, or which grad school to attend, our decisions range from insignificant to life-altering. As a chronically indecisive person, I constantly struggle through every little decision to the point of anxiety. But, I started realizing that I was viewing the world as black and white when really, there are very few times when the decision is just that simple.
Here are some of the things I now remind myself of when making decisions:
1. Other people will be okay.
I’m a people-pleaser who wants everyone to get what they want and be happy but we all know that’s not always possible. What you have to realize when making decisions is that, sometimes, not everyone will be happy about it. Your friend may ask you what you want for dinner and you may say Mexican food. Maybe she wanted Italian food? But she asked you and you were honest. She will be okay.
What about bigger decisions? In most cases, the same goes for these, too. If you’re going to grad school and your parents and friends want you to stay local, they will be okay if you feel drawn across the country. These are your decisions and only you can make the one that’s right for you.
2. Have an opinion and be honest about it.
Sometimes, I really just don’t have a preference on where I want to eat and I let others do the deciding. But when you have an opinion, speak up! This doesn’t always mean that whoever you’re with will agree or even compromise, but honesty is important if you want to avoid a silent standstill. At some point in our lives, we all have to learn to stand up for ourselves and the little daily decisions are baby steps to learning that.
Especially as women, society tells us to be passive when I believe we have every right to be the opposite. If it’s grad school or a new job or a new hometown calling, be able to choose and be honest about your choice with those you love.
3. Sometimes, there is no right decision.
I used to think that because I knew I wanted to go to my current university that it was the only option I had. I never had a real choice to make. Now, looking at grad school, I have no idea where I want to go and I feel lost. How can I possibly make a choice when there isn’t one clear option?
This is the trap I so often fall into. I tend to think this choice will make everyone happy and this one would cause disaster, but I never know which one is which.
Because the answer doesn’t always reveal itself in a beam of light and a hallelujah chorus. Because there is very rarely a completely right and completely wrong answer. Someone is probably craving a different kind of food than you. Someone probably wants you to stay local for grad school while someone else wants you to expand your horizons.
Even moral decisions have ups and downs but you must still make a choice. There isn’t always a right or wrong answer. You just have to make the choice.
4. Learn to live with the consequences.
Every choice has consequences, good and bad, and you have to learn to face them. It is likely that the big decisions in your life will lead you away from friends (like moving) but they will also lead you to new ones. Choosing a grad school might separate you from your family, but you may find your dream job or a new best friend. Your friend may want Italian but there’s always next weekend for that.
Always fearing the outcome of a choice only leads to anxiety, passivity and stagnancy. Fear keeps us from taking risks and it keeps us from pursuing our dreams and that really good enchilada.
Learning to live with the consequences is necessary if we are to be consistently decisive. There isn’t always a right answer and not everyone will be happy with the decisions you make, but at least you’ll be making them and going somewhere rather than not making them and having a motionless life.