What should I order off the menu? What shoes should I wear? When should I ask for a raise? Should I break up with my boyfriend? Should I apply for the job?
I’m all about not being impulsive and thinking things through, but when it comes to decision making don’t overanalyze things or you’ll get left behind! Some people get analysis paralysis. Some look for signs from the universe. And some wait for that warm fuzzy feeling before they say yay or nay. Stop! Trust your instincts! Don’t be a flat squirrel – make a decision!
“Look both ways before you cross the street,” “don’t put your finger in light sockets” and “wash your hands before you eat” are important lessons to teach children when they’re young, but as kids get older the lessons should change. While safety and manners matter, preparing our kids for life skills as they move into adulthood becomes extra important.
That’s why during a recent conversation over dinner my husband told me about how he’s been drilling into our three sons the importance of being decisive. He recited a little saying he had shared with them not too long ago. Here it is: Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.
Isn’t it great? Isn’t it so true?
Learning to make decisions quickly, wisely, and decisively is important when it comes to business, life, and relationships.
If you’ve ever hung around with someone who takes forever making a decision, you know that indecisiveness can be annoying, exhausting, and downright irritating.
Confession time! I’m a recovering wishy-washy indecisive gal myself. For years I’d waffle over things like what restaurant to go to (Mexican or Thai?), what clothes to wear (jeans or leggings?), what to spend (or not spend) money on (clothes or household items?), or what movie to watch (rom-com or sci-fi?). The last several years as I’ve reflected on my past and what made me think or do some of the things I did, I’ve come to realize that there were several mindsets around making decisions that held me back from living fully.
Flat Squirrel People
Indecisive people (flat squirrels) have some traits in common. A few years ago I would have personally nodded my head yes to each of these traits. Do any of them seem familiar to you?
- People Pleasing. People pleasers don’t want to rock the boat and strive for harmony in all things. They want everyone to be at peace with a decision, but sadly, they short-change themselves by not including themselves in the decision.
- Low Confidence. Some people don’t believe in their ability to think for themselves; they believe other people are more capable of making the “right” choice for them so they remain indecisive.
- Insecurity. Insecure people think that their opinion or choice doesn’t matter. They don’t believe in themselves so why should anyone else?
- Perfectionism. People who are perfectionists stress about making the wrong decision. If the outcome doesn’t come out perfectly they’d rather not make a decision at all.
- Over Analyzing. Some people are extremely reflective. They think long and hard about decisions and get anxious about making the wrong one. They weigh the pros and cons excessively.
- Lack of Practice. Some people were not included in decision-making as children and therefore they lack the know-how to make decisions as adults. *see below for more information on this
Smart Squirrel People
One way to take ownership of your life is to take control of your decisions rather than pawning them off on others.
- Are Confident. When a person lets go of doubts and insecurities they become confident in their own skin. They know that even if they make the wrong decision it’s okay. Mistakes don’t affect their confidence.
- Trust Their Instincts. Decisive people are not impulsive, but they don’t overanalyze things either. They refuse to be bogged down by analysis paralysis. They strike a balance between thinking things through and acting on them. Here’s a quote that sums up this point: “Listen to your heart, but take your brain with you.”
- Are Students of Mistakes. People who are decisive know that they may make the wrong decision but, if they do, they can treat it as a lesson to learn from and, you can bet, they will most probably not make the same mistake twice.
- Stand Out. People who are decisive standout and are recognized as people who know their worth, know what they want, and who aren’t afraid to act.
- Grow Under Pressure. They believe that pressure is the “birthplace of growth”. They also know that stepping out of their comfort zone is where good things often happen.
Children and Decision Making
You can make a positive impact in a child’s (or grandchild’s) life when you include them in decision making. No, parents shouldn’t include children in all decision-making! Financial decisions, large purchases, and budgeting is best left up to adults, but there are some minor decisions that children could be included in. Things like what to eat for breakfast, what activities to do on family night, and what clothes to wear to school. Letting children make decisions will prepare them for their decision-making in the future.
In addition it will:
- Boost Their Confidence. By allowing children to have input in some of the minor decisions, they will begin to feel important and their confidence in themselves and their abilities will grow.
- Improve Their Self Esteem and Worth. By allowing children to help decide on small things, you give them a place in the family where they realize their voices are heard and they feel important.
- Help Them to Learn from Mistakes. When children make inappropriate choices they learn from them. They learn what to do, or not do, next time. They come to understand that learning from mistakes is key to making decisions in the future.
- Help them Avoid Perfectionism. Allowing them to make wrong decisions also shows them that not everything turns out perfect.
Stop overthinking and make a decision! Be okay with uncertainty. Many decisions involve doubt, confusion, and uneasiness. This doesn’t mean that something is wrong or the decision should be “red-flagged”. Acknowledge that you feel doubt. Have complete confidence in YOU, not necessarily in the decision. By doing this it becomes easier for you to simply make a decision, right or wrong, and move on.
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