Confession time: as I have gotten older, I have become more indecisive, not less.
I am the woman in the restaurant who spends 20 minutes deciding what to order. Deciding to change jobs takes me months, not weeks. I'm currently househunting with my husband—it's fortunate (for me) that he has the patience of a saint, because I've waffled on everything we've seen since last August, and so we still haven't found a new place to live.
I do not want to be like this. I want to change. Obviously, my goal is not to become a reactionary person, but I do want to get better at making big decisions.
Yesterday, Fast Company ran an excerpt from Chip and Dan Heath's new book, Decisive: How To Make Better Choices in Life and Work.
"It’s easy to lose perspective when we’re facing a thorny dilemma. Blinded by the particulars of the situation, we’ll waffle and agonize, changing our mind from day to day," wrote the Brothers Heath.
Yep, that's me.
The Heaths suggest a decision-making process invented by the writer Suzy Welch, the 10/10/10 method:
"To use 10/10/10, we think about our decisions on three different time frames:
How will we feel about it 10 minutes from now?
How about 10 months from now?
How about 10 years from now?"
It's sound advice and I'm taking it to heart, though I'm not sure it is relevant to every waffley moment in my life. So I turned to our readers and asked them for advice. Here are some of their suggestions:
@fastcompany Use either a word doc, excel spreadsheet or even just a pen & pad, to make a comparative list of all plausible pros & cons.— Démes Ribeiro (@DJ_Networth) April 1, 2013
@fastcompany Plan for both success and failure.— Zee Grega (@zeegrega) April 1, 2013
@fastcompany Realize that you can't please everybody.— Nik Warren (@nikwarren) April 1, 2013
Even my friends chirped in, on Facebook:
Brian Mihok: "Imagine if you have only 3 seconds to make the decision. What do you lean towards if you can't over think it?"
Jessica Hullinger: "Ask for advice from people whose opinions I trust. Sometimes it helps to get out of your own head for a bit."
Reading all the advice that came in via our social networks led me to ask myself: Why am I bad at making many big decisions? Nik's comment reminded me that I do worry too much about pleasing everyone. Brian and Jessica reinforced what I already knew to be true—I tend to overthink things and get stuck in my own head, which is definitely not always a good thing. It also occurred to me that what holds me back the most is fear—fear of making the wrong choices. Clearly I need to find a way to address that fear if I want to become a more decisive person.
So how about you? What are your top tips for making tough decisions? Please share them with us in the comments section below![Image: Flickr user Sandra M. Martinez]