What Makes Decision-Making So Damn Hard?

Decision-making has been on my mind a lot lately. (Go figure…that’s what happens when I’m getting ready to teach a class on a topic – I roll the topic around in my mind and practically obsess on it.)

For almost my whole life I thought of myself as someone who could not make a decision.

I avoided them whenever I could. And if I couldn’t avoid one, my choice almost always felt more like I was closing my eyes and throwing a dart to see which option it hit. As though I was going someplace else and just choosing already, so I didn’t have to think about it anymore.

I felt ashamed of my indecisiveness. I suppose because somewhere along the way I picked up that indecisiveness was a female thing. Fucking sexist stereotypes.

Eventually I reached a point of mostly accepting that it’s just the way I was. Over the past couple of years, though, it started to shift without me even realizing it.

Ahhh, hindsight

Looking back, there were three big things (all inter-related) that made decision-making nearly impossible for me.

  1. I was looking outside myself for the answers.
  2. That’s exactly how I wound up in Houston making cold calls from a dive shop.

    I was more concerned about what the surrounding circumstances looked like than what I really wanted.

    It’s hard to explain, but when we’re presented with an opportunity, it’s as though we go outside ourselves to consider it, when what we should be doing is staying where we are and bringing the opportunity toward ourselves, to see how it feels.

    When we go outside ourselves, we give away our power to make the choices that are best for us.

    The Houston job was the only offer on the table. And it had been three whole months since I’d gotten out of school. (Yes, those were sarcastic italics.)

    But nobody looked me in the eye and asked, “Victoria, is this the offer you’ve been waiting for? If not, what would it look like if you allowed yourself to wait a little longer?”

  3. I didn’t know how to connect with what I wanted, and I didn’t trust that some part of me already knew.
  4. Whenever I had to decide something, I got advice from a million different places. And don’t get me started on all the Pros and Cons lists I made.

    I wasn’t able to stop, look within and go with what my gut was saying. After so many years of not listening, my gut had gotten tired of trying to yell over the din of advice from other people.

  5. I saw “bad decisions” as failures.
  6. No matter what we’re deciding, we don’t control the outcome. But as a perfectionist, the outcome is where I tend to focus. If the outcome wasn’t what I wanted, I’d failed.

    There’s no room for learning and growth that way.

    And with avoiding failure as a driving force, it’s far too easy to play it safe and miss really good opportunities.

A place to start

Decision-making is a skill you can learn, and just like with other learned skills, you get better with practice.

That’s why I created my upcoming class about the No-Brainer Scenario.

The technique helps you see what you want without limiting yourself to the circumstances at hand.

It’s the perfect way to start a practice of making decisions from within. The technique even has built-in ways to know when you’ve found what you really want. And it will help you know why you’re choosing the way you are. No more deciding in the dark.

If you’re ready to start exercising your decision-making muscles, check out the class deets here.

7 thoughts on “What Makes Decision-Making So Damn Hard?

  1. skaja

    This is lovely. :) It’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one who has trouble making decisions.

    Looking forward to your class. :)
    .-= skaja´s last blog ..Why I write =-.

  2. Dave

    Hi Victoria,

    Indecision? Totally not a female thing, I’m living proof :)

    I loved reading this: “When we go outside ourselves, we give away our power to make the choices that are best for us.” What a powerful point, and isn’t it interesting that we are so conditioned to giving that power away?

    Your course sounds great!
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..Scribble to Image- Heart-Door Guy =-.

  3. Natalie Peluso

    This is really good Victoria – I’ve been asking myself lately what do I hope to get out of this before I make a decision about something, instead of my usual thing of jumping in without giving it a proper going over, or the alternative which is to feel like I’m missing out of something because I chose an alternative route. Filtering it first – do I want to do this just because I feel I should? Or will it really serve me? Excellent questions. And good luck with the course, sounds fab!
    .-= Natalie Peluso´s last blog ..Sing Your Truth Proudly Presents… =-.

  4. Victoria Post author

    @skaja – You are most definitely not alone. :)

    @Dave – Funny that you say it’s not a female thing. I don’t even know where I picked that up, but I was so shocked to learn as an adult that a certain male family member has always had a horrible time w/ decision-making, too. Kids are like irrational sponges!

    And yes, we really are conditioned to give our power away in our choices. Perhaps it’s a combination of our parents trying to protect us and our teachers trying make their own lives easier by encouraging conformity. Or something. It’s like we have to unlearn all that stuff once we grow up!

    @Natalie – Thanks! It can be such a challenge to stop and apply mindfulness to a decision, can’t it? Especially with the speed of the intertubes and so much happening now, now, now! I’ve definitely had to work on my beliefs around “missed” opportunities, and trusting that I’ll get just what I need right when I need it.

  5. Sue Mitchell

    Your class looks great. I signed up!

    Do you use pros/cons at all? I find that helpful but just one piece of the process. For me, it organizes the information so that my mind is placated. I can then turn the decision over to my gut from there.

    1. Victoria Post author

      Hi Sue! Looking forward to having you in the class!

      I’m actually working on a post about pros and cons lists. I *want* them to work, but they don’t seem to work for me. I think you’re on to something, though, by treating them as only a piece of the overall process. You got my gears turning! :)

  6. Jane

    I’m unlearning almost everything I’d learnt about decision making – mainly that you don’t have a lot (or any) power and choice – sometimes a bit scary but definitely liberating. It’s made me super aware of how many people are living lives they’re not happy with because they believe they have ‘no choice’.

    Good luck with the class!
    .-= Jane´s last blog ..Owning my boat =-.

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