We’ve all been there – staring blank after receiving a question that requires our decisive input or standing in front of our closet unable to make up our minds. Making decisions can be tough, especially when we overanalyze and doubt ourselves.
As an overthinker myself, I totally get the struggle. But then, being indecisive can be so frustrating – it holds us back from taking action. If you have ever asked yourself, “why am I so indecisive?” It means you know your challenges with indecisiveness and want to put an end to it.
The struggle with being indecisive is not as talked about as procrastination, low self-confidence, self-sabotage et al; but to our detriment, it exists.
After years of hesitating over even the smallest choices, I evaluated my struggles with indecision and have decided to do everything within my power to overcome my indecision. eliminate its effect on my life to the barest minimum.
Here’s the thing, we can manage to stop hesitating a few times and fall short further down, but it’s progress. We do not have to win indecisiveness in one go. It takes conscious, continued effort.
Benefits of Being Less Indecisive
- Better decision maker – When you are prone to indecision, making choices can take up a lot of mental energy and time. Being more decisive can speed up your decision making process.
- Less stress – Indecision can lead to anxiety and stress when facing a choice. Making decisions more readily prevents you from overthinking and worrying excessively.
- Progress – When you have difficulty committing to a choice, it can stall plans or prevent you from moving forward. Being decisive helps you take action and make progress on goals.
- Improved confidence – Making decisions helps build self-trust and self-efficacy. This confidence can carry over to other aspects of life.
- Better relationships – Indecision can frustrate or confuse people who may be depending on your commitment. Being more decisive shows reliability.
- Better outcomes – Although not all decisions will have optimal outcomes, chronic indecisiveness leads to missed opportunities or maintaining the status quo. Decisiveness enables change.
How to stop being indecisive
Want to stop second-guessing yourself? Let’s go over some tips for learning how to make up your mind:
Sidenote; I will always come back to this article for a little “pick me up” so I do not go slacking.
Evaluate why you struggle with decisions
Before diving into how to stop being indecisive, it’s important to understand potential root causes. This gives insight so you can target the appropriate solutions.
This combination of perfectionism and information overload makes it hard for me to actually make choices. Recognizing this pattern has helped me set reasonable criteria for making sufficiently good decisions, separate from the unrealistic goal of perfection.
Let’s break down some common reasons why you may be indecisive, and – more importantly – tips to overcome it.
Overanalyzing options and worrying about making the perfect choice is a major cause of indecisiveness. You get caught up playing out every imaginable scenario in your head.
Symptoms of overthinking:
- Mental fatigue from constant evaluation
- Fixating on insignificant details
- Feeling paralyzed by hypothetical “what ifs”
Beat overthinking by:
- Narrowing down must-have criteria before comparing options
- Consulting others to get different perspectives
- Setting a deadline for when you’ll decide
- Trusting your gut once you have enough info
Tip: Limit decision deliberation to 30 minutes max. More data doesn’t guarantee a better outcome.
Fear of Failure
It’s natural to worry about failing or making the wrong choice. However, this fear can lead to inaction. You assume deciding nothing is safer than deciding wrong.
Failure anxiety shows up as:
- Downplaying strengths and overstating weaknesses
- Minimizing past wins and accomplishments
- Assuming you’ll regret any choice
Build confidence to combat fear by:
- Owning your talents, growth potential and resilience
- Recalling times you overcame challenges
- Considering the actual worst case scenario
- Having backup plans for more complex decisions
Tip: Failure is part of progress. It’s unlikely that one choice will determine your entire future.
Struggling with self-confidence and self-trust fuels indecision. You question whether you know yourself or the situation well enough to judge appropriately.
Self-doubt warning signs:
- Needing endless feedback and approval from others
- Having high standards but still feeling unqualified
- Changing your preferences frequently
Quiet the inner critic by:
- Identifying core values/priorities to guide choices
- Starting a success journal to see patterns of good decisions
- Trusting your unique vantage point over others’
- Not expecting perfection from yourself or choices
Tip: Decisions don’t define your worth. It’s better to risk mistakes than miss opportunities waiting.
Holding unrealistically high standards paralyzes decision-making. You don’t feel any option meets your expectations so you end up doing nothing.
Perfectionism warning signs:
- Putting off choices because nothing seems good enough
- Getting stuck on minor flaws and details
- Feeling anxious about making the “right” decision
Quiet the inner perfectionist by:
- Setting a deadline to decide to avoid overanalyzing
- Focusing on what matters most rather than minor details
- Accepting that no option will be perfect
- Remembering done is better than perfect
Tip: Perfectionism leads to missed opportunities and lack of progress. Move forward with an option that meets your key priorities.
Also called the “paradox of choice”, research shows too many options overwhelms our brains. We overanalyze trying to determine the single best one. This often leads nowhere.
Clues you’re frozen by analysis:
- Creating endless pro/con lists without progress
- Getting decision fatigue
- Feeling paralyzed as more options added
Keep it simple by:
- Considering 2-3 solid options max
- Setting aside time for decisions to avoid mental clutter
- Starting before you have “perfect” info
- Being okay with “good enough”
Tip: Evaluate options on key factors. More does not mean better match for your needs.
Basing decisions too heavily on others’ opinions rather than your own judgment and values fuels indecision. You may struggle determining which influences to trust over your own perspective.
External influences warning signs:
- Changing your mind frequently based on latest input
- Having trouble making choices others disagree on
- Feeling overwhelmed by contradictory advice
Quiet the outer critics by:
- Checking if a decision aligns with your priorities
- Seeing if you have the needed expertise to evaluate
- Trusting your intimate knowledge of personal context
- Weighing feedback against your own reasoning
- Getting clarity on what tradeoffs you’re willing to make
Tip: The most informed decisions combine internal wisdom and external input. But the final judgment call is yours.
Set a time limit for decisions
One of the simplest yet effective ways to counter indecision is to give yourself a time limit to decide. This could be 5 minutes to tidy up your workspace or 20 minutes to plan your week or day.
Setting a cutoff for deliberation forces you to evaluate options efficiently and go with your gut. Giving yourself a specific amount of time to make a decision forces you to focus and make a choice, even if it’s not the perfect one.
Here are a few tips for setting a time limit for decisions:
- Be realistic. Don’t set yourself a time limit that’s too short, or you’ll end up feeling rushed and making a poor decision.
- Stick to the time limit. Once you’ve set a time limit, don’t give yourself any extensions. This will help you to stay focused and avoid getting bogged down in the details.
- Trust your gut. Once the time limit is up, make a decision and move on. Don’t second-guess yourself or try to find the perfect solution.
Determine your must-haves vs. ideal wants
Another issue that fuels chronic indecision is confusing needs and wishes. Often when deciding, we mix up the criteria between essential must-haves and nice-to-have ideals. This muddies our ability to assess what actually meets our requirements.
When making any choice – like purchasing a car or deciding on a college major – outline your non-negotiable musts separately from your “wish list” wants. This clarifies the minimal factors that would make an option workable even if it’s not perfect. As you deliberate, focus primarily on how each choice stacks up regarding your must-haves rather than the ideal extras.
For big life decisions, I put this into a literal pros and cons list. The must-haves go under pros as dealbreakers to consider. My wish list ideals go under cons as nice addons that aren’t required. This framework helps me identify what options sufficiently meet my needs so I can decide more easily.
Commit to a decision & reframe regret
Even with evaluation tips, making final decisions remains difficult for overthinkers. We second-guess ourselves out of fear of choosing incorrectly. Our perfectionism prevents us from accepting that no decision will ever be perfect.
To move past overthinking decisions, we must reframe our thoughts on regret. Instead of avoiding choices to prevent future regret, focus on the regret you will feel if you don’t decide. Remind yourself that few decisions are truly “wrong” – most can be adjusted. The worst option is always wondering “what if” because you couldn’t commit to a choice.
Always do a final gut check by asking yourself: “if I had to leave this decision venue/webpage in the next 60 seconds, which option would I go with?” Visualizing this scenario helps crystallize your instinctual preference. Take a leap and commit, which is infinitely better than remaining stuck overwhelmed by choices.
Stay accountable with decision deadlines
The final piece that’s helped me stop procrastinating decisions is to share my timelines with others. We’re all more motivated to follow through on goals when we’re accountable to someone besides ourselves.
Now when faced with major choices – like whether to get my MBA or purchase a home – I’ll tell a friend my decision deadline. I’ll frame it as asking their advice, but what I’m really doing is giving myself an external benchmark. When I know I’ve committed to someone else that I’ll have a verdict by next month, it lights enough fire under me to determine and commit rather than infinitely delaying.
Owning your Decisions = owning your power
At the end of the day, indecision stops us from moving forward and leading the lives we want. We miss out on opportunities and give our power away to circumstances or other people’s decisions.
It may take effort and practice to get comfortable trusting your judgment. But I promise – the freedom you’ll feel after finally learning how to make decisions confidently will change everything.
I’ve learned that when I make a choice, what I imagine could go wrong usually turns out not nearly as bad. And even if things don’t go my way, I find I’m able to deal with it and shift course. So, try to be kind, but keep challenging yourself.
Second-guessing yourself will eventually give way to feeling able and brave. Soon you’ll look back and instead of dwelling on doubts about past decisions, you’ll be proud that you took ownership over your actions.
What resonated with you in this post? What other indecision struggles do you face? Share in the comments!