The older I get, the more I am plagued by something I could have never seen coming. Something cold and cruel, deadly and isolating. Destructive and mind-altering. No, this thing is not anxiety. It’s indecisiveness. Upon each day that passes I find it harder and harder to make concrete decisions for myself. As a kid, I knew exactly what I wanted to eat at a restaurant, I knew exactly what I wanted to wear each day, and I was certain about what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I always ordered chicken fingers and fries, wore bright pink overalls, and was set on being the first female priest to get married. As I made my way into adulthood, I did not go into the priesthood, I stopped eating fried food, and I put my neon pink overalls to rest. What I'm trying to tell you is when I made these slightly ridiculous choices as a kid I never questioned them, but these days I feel stumped by even the smallest decision to make. Take yesterday for example. I had three things to do: Book an Airbnb, go to a smoothie shop, and buy one summer bathing suit. I had three decisions to make that weren’t life-altering. Three decisions that were actually wonderful little treats to enhance my cooped-up quarantine life. Three decisions that should have sparked immediate joy! Instead, they sparked instantaneous indecisiveness.
Let’s start with the Airbnb.
Simple, right? Book a night for you and your husband to have a staycation, Sarah. This is so easy! This is fun! Wrong. Disastrous. Basically, I looked at every home and guest house in the entire state of California. I went from tiny homes to ranch villas, beach-side escapes to tree houses. You wouldn’t believe how many hours you can waist staring at stranger’s homes on the computer. I probably spent nearly 10 hours. No, no. I probably lost 10 hours scrolling through Airbnb homes I could potentially book. This shouldn't have been that hard!
Then there was the smoothie dilemma.
My husband and I were getting ready to go on our weekly date, something we've really tried to stick to, especially during these cooped up quarantine days. On this particular day, we decided to treat ourselves to a smoothie. My husband said, “Babe, pick a smoothie spot for us!” I smiled then went directly to yelp. I scrolled through an unhealthy number of foodie pics, skimmed hundreds of reviews about overpriced blended cups of fruit, and then I looked up all the menus to check out what ingredients would be used to make my cup of blended fruit. After all this research, I still hadn't settled on a smoothie spot because what about the location!? Did these smoothie shops have an outdoor patio or were the stuffed in some corner of a strip mall? This matters people! At least in the moment it seemed to. An hour later, my husband walked into the office and said, "So, where are we going?" I shrugged back helplessly and sighed, "I don't know." Is this painfully pathetic or what?
Next on my list was to buy one summer bathing suit.
As I began my hunt for a bathing suit, I noticed this terrible pattern start to emerge. It went like this: find a bathing suit, add to shopping cart, go to shopping cart, freeze. STOP! What if I’m missing out on a better deal? And what are all these new retail stores flashing at me on Instagram, Facebook, and Google? Oh no! Google knows I am on the hunt for a high waisted swimsuit, and now I’m plagued with options, too many options! And who on earth is behind the marketing team of Rowe and Shein? My goodness! They are on a roll. It’s like I’m about to click – buy swimsuit – then all of a sudden Shein comes out of nowhere taunting me with their low prices. Did I mention I don’t even like wearing bathing suits? I’m much more a fall girl with the oversized sweaters and leggings look. Now I'm just angry. This should not be that hard!
As I reflected back on my newfound extreme indecisiveness about the most minuscule life decisions ever, I felt a wave of sadness overcome me. When did it become so hard for me to make a decision? When did I stop being so sure of myself? I'll tell you what happened, the internet.
Why It's So Hard To Make A Decision
When the internet came out it provided us with wonderful tools for communicating, sharing, and learning, but with it also came choices. So many choices. There is more to choose from now than ever before. Right when we think we know what’s best for us, we are stopped by an image on the internet telling us to consider all these other options instead. The internet knows what we are interested in, and it loves to plague us with ads and images surrounding whatever we have most recently googled.
Dr. Jim Taylor wrote all about this on Psychology Today explaining how technology is creating a generation of bad decision makers. He goes on to explain that, "Technology discourages children from thinking and deliberation, and promotes acting on their most base impulses, emotions, and needs, for example, anger, fear, or need for approval."
Taylor is right, but there's one key component he's missing in his article which is that technology is doing this to adults too. We have to get back to becoming more confident decision makers, but how? A great place to start is by following the 3-step method below. I use it every time I feel overwhelmed with a decision to make, and it's done wonders for conquering my indecisiveness.
3 Powerful Ways To Make Decisions With Confidence:
1) Walk Away From Images
On The Internet
We have to walk away from the outside source: social media and dive into the inner source: ourselves. The right decision for us is not one that pops up as an advertisement on the side of our computer screen. The right decision is the one that comes from within. The one that makes absolutely no sense to an algorithm. The decision that fills us up most in life is one that can’t be captured by the click of a camera. It’s the one that captures our hearts. When in a pickle ask yourself the two questions below. They are wonderful things to consider to help get back to what's most true to you!
What truly brings me joy? What would I do or wear if social media didn't exist?
2) Name Your Fears
When you're feeling indecisive, there's a fear that holds you back from making a decision. It's called the fear of the unknown. This fear stirs up questions like: What if I make the wrong choice? What if nobody or the other people involved (in my case my husband) don't have a good time? What if there's something better out there and I am missing out? When fear of the unknown takes over, take a moment to write down all these fears down on a piece of paper. Look at them. Observe them. Then write out the truths next to your fears. Observe those truths closely and watch your mind be filled with confidence. For example: I can't choose a wrong Airbnb to stay in. Any of them will be great! My husband and I will be happy no mater what smoothie we drink. A bathing suit will not make or break anything that happens in my life.
3) Ask Yourself: Will This Matter In 5 Years?
With all the options in the world, we give so much time and energy to the smallest of decisions that really aren’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. I mean what smoothie shop to go to? Come on Sarah. It's a blended cup of fruit. When you feel plagued by what to do ask yourself the most valuable question in the world when it comes to decision making: Will this matter in 5 years? Often times the answer is a definite no. This may seem harsh, but it’s actually an amazing relief! When you realize that whatever choice you are battling with probably won’t matter in 5 years, you are free from the weight of indecisiveness that holds you back. Amen to that! Go with your gut and move on!
After I completed this 3-step method, I made decisions with confidence like wildfire. I booked a lovey Airbnb in a guest house because do I really have an interest in sleeping on a tree branch right now? No. Our Perfect COVID getaway: HERE! Next, I picked a nearby smoothie shop that was made with organic ingredients and of course locally owned. I always choose to support local businesses when possible because they are more health conscious and mindful about what their customers eat and drink. So, just like that my husband and I were off to one of the most trusty smoothie shops in Los Angeles: SunLife Organics! As for my bathing suit dilemma, I knew exactly what I wanted after I followed the 3-step method. I wanted a bathing suit from the ancient, department store, Dillard's. I know this is a boring, old lady store in the eyes of many young people today, but Dillard’s bathing suits feel like me. They have a classic, natural look to them, and I will not search one other online retail store for a swimsuit. Beat that Shein advertisements. My decision has been made! My New Summer Bathing Suit is HERE!
DONE! All my decisions have been made! My gosh would you look at that? I feel better. I feel confident. I feel like me again! Let me tell you, it's an amazing feeling to feel like yourself. When you feel plagued with indecisiveness, turn off your phone and come back to this 3-step method. It's an amazing feeling to get back to what feels true to you!
What decisions are you struggling with today? I would love to know your