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The Illusion of Indecision

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In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. – Theodore Roosevelt

Photo by Letizia Bordoni on Unsplash

Decisions. You have to make them every day. Some come easy, because your subconscious has programming in it, otherwise known as habit, that makes automatic decisions.

But some decisions don’t come easy. These decisions require conscious consideration. And often that conscious consideration can result in getting stuck.


The illusion

Your brain is very good at justifying taking time to make a decision. It wants to gather all the facts, consider the details, and make the best move for your survival.

This in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s nice to know your brain has your back, and is looking out for you in that way. But this is also where things can get tricky.

Brains don’t like not being able to predict what is going to happen. When we have to make a conscious decision about something, that means our brain doesn’t have a predetermined result it can rely on. (There’s no ingrained habit to automatically make that decision.)

This can create concern, confusion, and overwhelm about making a decision, because what if it’s the wrong decision?


No wrong decisions

Thinking a decision is going to be wrong is a concept of the mind. Yes, a decision may not create the result you were going after. And yes, a decision could end in something negative. Even as negative as death. And that freaks a brain out.

But all decisions lead exactly where they are supposed to. If you make a decision, and it doesn’t result in what you hoped for, guess what? You’ve now learned what that decision leads to. If you ever need to create this result again, now you know how.

And if it’s not the result you currently want? It’s time to make another decision. You can either view that first decision as wrong in a negative way, or as educational in a positive way.


Decision fatigue

If you’re experiencing decision fatigue, it’s coming from your brain labeling things as problems that maybe aren’t even problems. Or if it actually is a problem, your brain might be making a mountain out of a molehill.

The human brain labels all sorts of things “problems”, when in reality they aren’t really problems. If there’s even the slightest whiff of something challenging your current state of survival, your brain is going to call it a problem.

Lots of problems means lots of decisions. Getting more conscious and deliberate about what you actually call a problem in your life can alleviate your decision fatigue.


Productivity in Indecision

Another area that can get a little tricky with indecision is that it can feel productive. Taking the time to really hash a decision out, gather facts and think deeply on it, can feel like the most productive thing to do.

In some cases, this is very much required. When NASA ground control had to solve the problems the Apollo 13 crew was experiencing, it was important to think deeply on all decisions made (even being under a time crunch), because they truly were life or death.

But the brain can make decisions that have no bearing on whether you live or die feel momentous. And so indecision starts to feel necessary and responsible.

This is where you have to watch your own thinking and coach yourself. As a human, you have the ability to do this. This sets you apart from all the other creatures you share this planet with.

If you’re not quite sure how to go about this, no problem. It’s what I teach people how to do. As a coach, my job is to see the thoughts in your mind that are creating indecision in your life. I’ll point them out to you and help you gain awareness so you can take control of your brain and use it as a tool for you.

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