I don’t like to use the word ‘hate’…
I SEVERELY dislike making decisions.
Most of our life, decisions were made for us – whether by your parents, teachers, adults.
What to eat – whatever someone else cooks that night
What to wear – whatever uniform you have
What to learn – whatever is on the test
So it’s no wonder we struggle so much now, when it’s our turn to decide.
Did someone say linchpin?
Referring back to my post about killing off our inner child and linchpins…
As kids, we’re brought up to follow the rules. We get praised if we do, scolded if we don’t.
But what’s that have to do with disliking decision making?
…It means we have to go into linchpin territory.
As children, we’re not expected to take responsibility. We look to adults to make them for us.
But what happens next?
We don’t want to challenge ourselves to make a mark in the system. We want to follow the rules, and get our bosses and higher ups to make the decisions for us.
We don’t want others coming to us, blaming us for the decision we made.
It’s so much easier to blame, than to take responsibility.
WE DON’T WANT TO ENTERTAIN A CHANCE FOR FAILURE.
We don’t like failure. that’s pretty well known. But to extend that, we don’t like failure, when this failure invites scrutiny from others.
I mention that learning to exist with the fear of failure is a key skill for successful people here and here.
And now I want to add another one…
The ability to make decisions with confidence, but also with the confidence to accept responsibility for this decision.
Jo's handy ways to avoid decision making
“Hmm well I’m not sure…what do you think?”
“I have no idea, let’s make a pros and cons list and stare at it.”
“I’m so bad at making decisions”
Use any of the above to deflect responsibility, consequences…and linchpin status.
Notice above how I refer to decision making as a skill, not a trait.
Because with any skill, when you dedicate time and effort in practicing it, you’ll get better.
Though for many of us, it’s the resistance of starting in the first place.
to make good decisions, we need to make plenty of bad ones.
Instead we avoid decisions, we deflect it to others, in hopes that they’ll take one for the team. That we’d rather let others decide for us, than face any negative consequences of our actions.
Steps to being a better decision maker
Start with small decisions.
In Matt D’avella’s podcast ‘Ground Up show‘, one of his guests recommends this seemingly easy, yet incredibly difficult task (especially for me):
Order something from a menu within 15 seconds.
The idea in itself makes my hands sweat.
But the goal is that…whatever decision you make, you’re just gonna have to go with it. You’re still going to get food with whatever meal you choose. And if you pick wrong, you deal with it and learn to not order the same dish in the future.
Make the decision. Roll with it. Learn from any mistakes or wrong choices. Repeat.
It should be easy.
But for me, when I order food, a multitude of questions start popping up in my head:
1. What do I even feel like eating right now?
2. How much is it?
But more pervasively:
3. What if i choose wrong? Then i’ve wasted my money…
4. What if I choose wrong? I’ll be thinking about the other food I should’ve chosen instead
Such a useless phrase I find myself saying too often.
Who cares about what if…just do it and find out.
The skill I want to improve on, is the ability to recover after a wrong choice…a failure, if you’d like.
"I'm bad at making decisions"
Our decision making skills are rusty. We rarely practice it, or just stick to decisions which we are almost certain of the outcome.
But I also think we underestimate our decision making skills.
This is especially true when we are ready to make a good decision, but get swayed last minute by external factors.
Take a recent example of mine:
I’m in Cairns and deciding which great barrier reef cruise I should book with. There’s heaps. It’s pretty overwhelming but I’ve got it narrowed to a few now.
I’ve done more research and now deciding between 2, but I pretty much know which one I like.
I see a tourist agency and decide ‘hey, they’ll know better than me, i’ll check it out’.
Suddenly, they introduce a cruise that I hadn’t even considered (more expensive than most cruises) and in a last minute decision, I decide they know best, and book with them.
Turns out that cruise was average, and expensive.
I look back and it would’ve been better to make the decision myself and trust my own decision making instincts.
But in that moment, I didn’t want to make the wrong decision, so I let someone make it for me.
We can all make decisions. We’ve just convinced ourselves that we can’t.
We don’t like decision making because:
1.. We don’t practice it enough
2. We don’t want to face any negative consequences to our actions (especially if that invites public scrutiny and blame)
3. A bad decision = failure. We don’t like failure.
4. We’re more scared of making the wrong decision, than confident to make the right one.
We improve by:
Making more bad decisions. In turn, it’ll be easier to make good ones.
The aim of practicing decision making is not to make the ‘right’ decision, it’s to get comfortable making the ‘wrong’ one.