The Overlooked Decision Skill
Here are 11 steps to o
I always thought that most people made decisions the way I did. With pros and cons that lead to an end product. However, I was puzzled by the lack of a method to most life decisions. It should be noted, I don’t judge, but I do want people to not loose out in life. Come on, who wouldn’t want to have a more natural way of making decisions?
By nature, I am psychic, but I still use my decision-making process. Maybe its because I can sense the many directions of my future that I have to resolve to use a clear cut approach.
So what makes some people naturally more adept at making decisions than others? I believe the cause of that could be fear. In fact, most people have slight anxiety when making decisions, but it really never gets past the point of a phobia. If you did suffer from an extreme aversion to decision making that would be called decidophobia.
What is Decidophobia?
Decidophobia is the fear of making decisions. The word de-cido is Latin (to cut off -as to end a conversation), and phobia is Greek (meaning fear).
Decidophobia is the severe form of difficulty in decision-making. The word was first used by Walter Kaufman in his 1973 book Without Guilt and Justice.
The Symptoms of Fear of Making Decisions
The fallowing are the typical symptoms of decidophobia. Now if you are not significantly affected by your hesitancy in decision making, you might only feel like these apply minimally. For the most part, if the symptoms are severe enough for you, please see a professional). (List by AllAboutCounseling.com)
• Dry mouth
• Excessive sweating
• Muscle Tension
• Dizziness or nausea
• The feeling of being trapped or stuck
• An irrational feeling of impending disaster
The Causes of Decision Fear
So what causes an irrational reaction to decision making? The science is not precise, but so far phycologist and behavioral pathologist think it might begin in childhood or adolescence. Specifically, after a stressor or horrible event. In short, there can be many reasons why you dislike making decisions. With that, here are a few reasons why a decision might be confusing:
• You might feel powerless
• Your significant other or kids might be affected.
• Losing control of your current life situation.
• Money issues.
• Your image might change.
• Fear of losing a comfortable status.
• Discomfort or fear of a new position.
• Losing old friends.
• FOMO (fear of missing out).
• Dependence of others
• Mistrust the situation.
• Peer pressure
• More work
• No time to get used to the idea.
The Losses of Decision Making Fear
Lacking in decision-making skills can hurt your self-development. You see, waiting on decisions and letting opportunities go by can be disappointing, and that can impact your self-esteem.
Below are some things you might miss out on if you don’t make quicker (but reasonable) decisions:
• Losing out on relationships
• Not getting a promotion or raise
• Travel experiences get put on the back burner because you are too afraid to commit
• Staying in a relationship because it’s hard to bring up an issue and make decisions on what to confront.
• Money management problems because you are afraid of what to invest in
The Decision Making Methods
There are many ways to make an informed decision. In most cases, you don’t need a specific process to make every-day decisions. But, for learning sake, here are two methods that I have found helpful. Obviously, it is up to you to find what fits you.
Thinking It Out Method:
- What is your current issue, or question you must move on?
- What are your options in these situations?
- What can happen if you choose a particular option? What can happen now vs. what can happen later?
- Write the pros or cons of those choices
- Circle the options that you feel are more beneficial for you and will take you in the direction you dream of.
- If your option/choices involve your partner or kids, talk over your preferences. If it doesn’t affect the lives of those closest to you, then make your choice but try not to talk
otherunless you can deal with the judgments or comments.
Eisenhower’s Decision Principle
This method helps people breakdown a decision into what is important and not important and what is urgent and not urgent. Stephen Covey talks about this method in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Here is a fantastic infographic by Art of Manliness.
11 STEPS TO OVERCOME THE FEAR OF MAKING DECISIONS
Step 1: Start Small
I have noticed that a good clue as to how good a person is at making choices or making commitments is how well they make small decisions fast. If you tend to get stuck on what to have for dinner, then you have a lot of practice ahead of you.
But the good news is that you can begin by practicing every-day simple decisions. I started by exercising my decisiveness when a question was asked or when a decision needed to be made. Answer or solve that situation (using the above How to make Clear Cut Decision) and try to be quick and as accurate as possible. I noticed I got faster with practice.
Step 2: Practice Daily
I always stress this point, you can’t see the change without putting in the work, it doesn’t matter how great of a human you are. You need to practice. Find a cue (anything that triggers your “its fast answer round time” such as; hey can you help me with?, What am I doing for…? and every time you notice it’s answer time then make those decisions faster.
Admitedly, I am one of those people that used to get stuck on figuring out what to order in a restaurant. I had a fear of choosing the wrong meal, or not enjoying what I was going to order. It took me several times of practicing the cueing system before I could just choose something that might sound good and then letting it be.
Not only do you benefit from making faster decisions but so do people around you, my kids and husband notice how laid back I am now. It leaks self-assurance when you can be self-assured and concise about what you order, and that quality is great to pass on to those around you.
Step 3: Identify Resistances to Change
If you get stuck on a decision, try to identify what is causing that resistance? Now let that go. Practice my emotional intelligence exercises to learn to let go of resistance. The reason to understand why you react a certain way is essential is to learn to recognize those patterns of fear and build self-confidence in your ability to disconnect from those patterns.
I don’t believe that the reason for the resistance is as crucial as it is to learn to move past it. You see, the brain is capable of change by merely bypassing old patterns. Don’t feed a pattern, and it will sense to be reinforced. Depending on how deep that pattern is will depend on how long it takes you to let those old habits go. I have some habits that have taken me 2-3 years to break and others that only take two weeks. It’s my ability to recognize my patterns that build confidence that I can change anything I set my mind to. Check out more on how habits form and how to help create new ones.
Step 4: Use Strategic Decision-Making
Once you learn how to make your small decisions quickly Use the strategic decision-making guide above for the big decisions only. The little choices should be fast and painless; they should only give you self-confidence for the big decisions.
Big decisions take time to master, but once you understand your life goals, you can make it even easier.
Click on my life audit if you are unsure where you are in life and want to find out. How To Do A Life Audit.
Step 5: Push Past Discomfort/ Learn to Desensitize:
Without even knowing it, you create patterns in thinking about everything you do. These emotional patterns associated with tasks we go about doing every day can limit behavior by creating fear in you. For example, when thinking about doing the dishes, you place a feeling before that task, for most that feeling is dread. Learn to disarm feelings by becoming aware of what you feel about the things you are doing. Read my Emotional Exercise To Stop Stress post and learn some techniques to become emotionally aware.
Once you can identify what emotions come up when you do a particular task, you can find out what you feel when you are making a decision and calm your body. Therefore, I call this Disarming Emotional Holds. I find that fear can become such a stopping block for a lot of my unfinished decisions.
Step 6: Let Go of Comfort Zones
A comfort zone is another part of Emotional Holds that can hold you and stop you from moving on decisions.
Again use emotional regulation to let go of the comfort zone and push past it. Nothing grows in the land of comfort, except doubt about your own potential.
Step 7: Release Fear of Failure
This fear is the worst fear for me. I can’t stress enough the pressure I felt deep inside my body to not move because I was afraid I could not do something. Consequently, I had no self-confidence, and it took me nearly 30 plus years to realize how debilitating fear of failure can be. There are classes I dropped, books I refused to pick up, and plans I dropped because I was afraid of looking stupid. Practice self-love and forgiveness to move past this fear.
What is self-love? Read this!
Step 8: Use Self-Forgiveness
I use self-forgiveness to move past a bad decision quickly. Life happens and sometimes even with the best decision making tips, you can find yourself not liking the outcome. Be okay with making mistakes, mistakes teach. Read my Why Self-Esteem Can Be Improved with Self-Compassion.
A second part to self-forgiveness is allowing yourself to act without fear of judgment from you or others. You see, self-esteem is part of self-love, self-love happens when you stop judging yourself and allow your self-worth to grow. Gently let go of peoples opinions (their opinions belong to them, not you) and how they affect how you make a choice. It’s your life; repeat that, it’s your life.
Step 9: Gather Information to Disarm Fear
Gather information if you find that your fear of making a decision comes from lack of knowledge of the unknown. Sometimes the more you know, the better you feel about a situation.
Now is the time to gather more information by talking to people who might have more knowledge in a particular area or have been to a place you are contemplating going to. Allow those people to share information but take any personal advice cautiously and don’t let it cloud the bigger picture.
Step 10: Learn When to Stop Searching
Now for the opposite, stop looking for information already, you know when you have enough information to move on a decision. So stop yourself and just make your choice. Use your emotional intelligence and regulate yourself past this point and stop searching and start doing. One of my favorite quotes below.
Step 11: Disconnect From the What If’s
The what if’s come from anxiety caused by fear and it’s a brain pattern that is not helpful. I had to include this particular problem in decision making because I hear it often as an excuse to not move on a decision. Life will always have “what if’s” that is just part of life. Life is 85% what you control and 10% those pesky what if’s that you can’t control. It’s a small percent if you think about it. So move past those obstacles of the unknown.
I wrote this article after talking to one of my lovely sisters’ she couldn’t move past contemplation and into a decision. She told me she was afraid to make a choice on something she wanted to do. I wanted her to have a reference point to come to whenever she felt stuck.
Importantly, I am slowly teaching my children how to make smart and quick decisions and when not to. I think it’s working, my oldest cheerfully pointed out the other day when ordering dinner “there I made my choice, and fast.” Please practice the above tips in front of your children and even your partner.
Once more point I wanted to make, my tips are to disarm those fears that make decision-making hard, but once you move past the difficulty, let go of the seriousness. Life is meant to be fun and carefree as possible. It’s called life for a reason; so don’t get stuck on doing things perfectly. Perfectionism is overrated, just make those decisions and live your life.
Art. (2019, July 23). The Eisenhower Decision Matrix: How to Distinguish Between Urgent and Important Tasks | The Art of Manliness. Retrieved July 28, 2019, from The Art of Manliness website: https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/eisenhower-decision-matrix/
Warner C. 5 Signs You Might Have Decidophobia, Or Fear Of Making Decisions. Bustle. https://www.bustle.com/articles/157828-5-signs-you-might-have-decidophobia-or-fear-of-making-decisions. Published April 29, 2016. Accessed July 28, 2019.
28 Factors or Causes of Resistance to Change. (2019, July 16). Retrieved July 28, 2019, from Entrepreneurship In A Box website: https://www.entrepreneurshipinabox.com/223/factors-that-causes-resistance-to-organizational-change/
Frozen by the Fear of Wrong Decisions. (2016, July 7). Retrieved July 28, 2019, from CBN.com – The Christian Broadcasting Network website: https://www1.cbn.com/frozen-fear-wrong-decisions-1
CTRN: Change That’s Right Now | Online Test. (2010, December 7). Retrieved July 28, 2019, from Changethatsrightnow.com website: http://www.changethatsrightnow.com/decidophobia/online-test/
Decidophobia – AllAboutCounseling.com. (2019). Retrieved July 28, 2019, from AllAboutCounseling.com website: https://www.allaboutcounseling.com/library/decidophobia/
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