How to Make a Decision
Ep. 155
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So many of us are paralyzed at making even the simplest decisions. 

We revert to asking everyone else’s opinions, we ruminate and drain ourselves going back and forth, we make pros and cons lists, and we stay stuck year after year. 

In this episode, I teach you why you have such a hard time making decisions and how to move past it. 

Show Transcript
When somebody asks you like what restaurant do you want to eat at? Can you come up with something or do you always defer to like oh, I don't care. I don't know, you pick. I mean I would be so debilitated that even if someone gave me two choices, I couldn't pick between them. I'd be like I honestly don't care. And I used to chalk that up to being easy going.

Hey, welcome to Lessons From a Quitter where we believe that it is never too late to start over. No matter how much time or energy you spent getting to where you are, if ultimately you are unfulfilled, then it is time to get out. Join me each week for both inspiration and actionable tips so that we can get you on the road to your dreams.

Hello, my friends. Welcome to another episode of Lessons From a Quitter. I am so excited you are here. I finished my four-day challenge last week and it was incredible. I really hope you guys joined. It was so amazing for me to watch how much people took away and the things they took away and the things that stuck out that it's kind of interesting because I've been doing this work now for so long like certain things I don't think are, you know, I think like it's common knowledge. And then I realized no, it's not, people don't know this stuff. And so it's always very exciting to see people just get simple reframes and change their mind and change their life and decide like oh wait, I don't have to be scared about making a decision or going after my dream or saying my dream out loud or whatever it is.

So a good time was had by all. It was actually really, really fun. And if you didn't join, you can still catch the replay till the end of the week. And I have some other really exciting news. Um, the doors are open for my six month program. I'm putting together the next cohort. There are only 33 spots. I was going to go for 30 but 33 has always been my favorite number. So I figured why not jazz it up? So we're going to go with 33. It is a small group program. So like it's very high touch. I'm very involved with you and your issues. I will coach you every single week for six months. I just help you move past your own blocks. Like the thing with mindset work and the reason I will always get coaching is you just miss your own blind spots, like intellectually a lot of these concepts are very easy to understand. You know, like I can tell you, oh yeah, your self worth is not tied to what you produce, right? Like you are worthy of love and you can understand that intellectually. We all do. And if that was all it took then none of us would be out here feeling guilty for resting. Right? None of us would not be out here hating our bodies because I could just tell you like hey, your body image was given to you by a messed up patriarchal beauty industry. And it's hoisted up on white supremacy and the patriarchy and you should just let it go. And you'd be like all right, I'll just let it go. But you don't because those things are so deeply ingrained that as much as we hear it's just thoughts, we very much believe it's facts. So you need to work on them. You need to dig in and do the work. And so if you want to join me for six months and really dive deep into the stuff that I talk about on this podcast, if you want to start getting out of your own way with like perfectionism and people pleasing and worrying about what everybody else thinks about you and not having the confidence to go after to the life you want and not being able to follow through on your goals and all of that stuff, I want you to join me in Stuck to Strategy. It is my favorite place to hang out. I love the comradery, the community. I think people really underestimate how powerful it is to be with a group of people who also want the same thing because we are always around a lot of people that have given into society's messages that like work's not supposed to be fun and you just have to buckle down and do it. And so it's so relieving to be around people that are like huh, I don't want this for my life, I want something else. So this is all to say if you want to hang out with me for six months and you want to change your life and that is not a exaggeration; you want to be more calm in how you approach your life; you want to have the confidence to start building a new life, changing a job, starting a business, whatever the thing is, go to and apply and come join me. I would love to have you in there but doors are closing this week. So if you listen to this after the week of June 25th um sorry. You're gonna have to wait for the next round. If you are listening when it comes out go and apply and come hang out with me.

Okay. That was my little spiel about the program. And now onto today's episode which is such an important one. We're gonna talk about how to make a decision. So many of us struggle with this and trust me, I struggled with this for a very long time. I still struggle with it sometimes. I've gotten much, much better but it's something that I see most of my students struggle with. And it comes, you know, in a variety of ways. But like what I hear a lot is like do I stay at this job or do I quit? Should I get another job in this industry? Or should I completely change careers? Which side hustle should I start? You know, I have all of these interests, whatever. And for so many of us, we lack like self-trust to such an extent that we can’t even make the simplest of decisions.

Think about yourself and think about when somebody asks you like what restaurant do you want to eat at? Can you come up with something or do you always defer to like oh, I don't care. I don't know, you pick. I mean I would be so debilitated that even if someone gave me two choices, I couldn't pick between them. I'd be like I honestly don't care. And I used to chalk that up to being easy going but that's not, right. At a certain point, you have to be able to start making decisions in your life. Now, women tend to do this more often because we are socialized to make everybody else happy and to be easy going and to forego our own needs. And so it starts becoming kind of our MO to like always defer to somebody else in the room. But in general, I think a lot of us are so deathly afraid of making the wrong choice with literally as little and innocuous things as picking a restaurant to major life choices that we want like somebody else to just make the decision for us. I don't want to have to make the choice, it seems like too much pressure. And so we go around and around. We spin about things forever. We stay stuck, which by the way, not making a decision is a decision. And we torture ourselves. Like just the anticipation of having to make a decision can be stressful because we engage in this back and forth, back and forth, torturing ourselves before we can actually make a decision. And so I want to talk about that. I want to talk about why you're doing that and how to stop doing it. Okay, for big and small decisions. Okay, so let's get an understanding what we're talking about. A lot of people love to think that it takes them a long time to make a decision, right? Like it takes me a really long time to decide something. Let's just understand that you make the decision in an instant. It doesn't take a long time to make a decision, right? The decision to do something or not to do something is instantly, it takes you a long time leading up to making the decision or even after making the decision, you might go back and forth, right? It's not the decision making that takes a long time, it's the amount of like intellectual volley of going back and forth that you put yourself through before you make that decision. Now we've all met other people who are very decisive, who don't take any time to make a decision, right? It's not like some rule that it takes time to make decisions. There are people that are very decisive, very authoritative and they just take control. Now, why does it take you so long to make a decision if it does and I'll tell you why most people, myself included, why it took me so long.

First, you're worried about making the quote unquote right decision. Okay. And you will constantly go back and forth like what is the right decision, what is the wrong decision here? Right. And I want you to understand what you're really asking there. You're not asking what right and wrong is. You're asking like what is the decision that I'm guaranteed to like in the future? If I only knew how this was all going to turn out, which one can I guarantee is a good outcome? How can I guarantee that I'm not going to hate it? I'm not going to regret it, right? That's what you're after, which one is going to work out for me. I want that certainty. How can someone guarantee me something that I'm going to choose is going to be the quote unquote right, meaning it's going to be the way that I want it to turn out. Now I don't have to tell you the problem with that. I'm assuming that you can already guess is that there is no certainty. There is no guarantee. Nobody can ever give you that. And that's why we stay stuck for so long. We're waiting for some divine sign that's going to tell us like this is the path you should go on. No, you shouldn't quit your job because you're going to regret it. Or yes, you should, because this is the time to jump. And I can guarantee you everything's going to work out. It's going to be wonderful. And no one's going to ever give you that. So you're just going to stay stuck. Right. That's why we have the saying: better the devil you know, than the devil you don't. That's why so many of us stay stuck in a place that we don't want to be.

Cause we're like at least I know how this one turns out. What if I don't like the way that one turns out? We're looking for that certainty. And if we can't have it, we're like well, I'm not even going to venture. Your brain does not like uncertainty. It is terrified of anything that has doubt. And so if you don't have to take it, you're not going to. I want you to think about like anything in your life. There's no certainty anywhere in any of our lives. We like to believe that we have control. We'd like to give ourselves like this illusion of control but we all know that in life there's just no certainty. I mean, I think that's the biggest guarantee that you have is that like there are no guarantees. Think about in the context of marriage, what if you were to say like I don't ever want to make the decision to get married unless someone guarantees me that I'll never get a divorce. You would never get married. Nobody ever would. Because how can anybody guarantee you that? They can't. And it doesn't even mean that it's not worth getting married. I'm sure there's tons of people that are divorced now that are still very happy with their decision to have gotten married at some point. It just, things changed. Now, you can obviously make decisions based on, you know, looking at certain like facts, trying to suss out red flags, trying to figure out like how compatible you are. Right. And most of us go into marriage feeling certain that we're not going to get a divorce. Right. Like I would say the vast, and I'm sure there's some people that get married and have some doubt, but I think that for the vast majority of us, when we get married, we would swear to you that like we're not going to be a part of those statistics. Like we're never going to get divorced. And yet a lot of us do, right. Because there is no guarantee. Even if we thought that there was some certainty there, there isn't. Think about for all the parents out there, when you have kids, I mean, what if you didn't have kids because you were thinking, or like you, in order to have kids, you wanted someone to guarantee you that nothing would ever happen to them. That they would always be healthy or you’d never have children. None of us would. We know this going into it, there's no certainty in that. You're basically like putting your heart on the chopping block every day when you have children because you have no idea what's going to happen. I mean, for the most part, you're hoping that things turn out well, but you know, there's the possibility that it might not and you're going to be okay with that, right? Like you have to be okay with the fact that like I'm going to handle what comes up. I'm going to hope for the best. I'm going to try to mitigate whatever I can. But like nobody can guarantee me that nothing's going to happen. It's the same thing with your career. I mean, there's just literally no certainty or guarantee. And if that's what you're waiting for, for that decision, then you will wait forever. But I want you to think about, for the people that have a really hard time making a decision, even on small things, think about that certainty or the the what your fear is there. Like we don't consciously realize it but let's take the example of deciding on a restaurant. Think about what is the worst case scenario in that situation, the worst case scenario is like you pick a restaurant that's not good. You don't like the food or your party doesn't like the food or it doesn't turn out well, for whatever reason, there's a long wait or something goes not the way you want and it's not the best experience. And for some of us, even that is a huge deal. Like we're so uh resistant to negative emotion. We're so resistant to like you know, we know we're going to beat ourselves up, we're going to feel horrible if other people don't have like the best time at this restaurant as if like we're responsible for everybody's emotions and we're responsible for every, you know, food order. And if they don't think it's the best like I don't even want to take that on. I want you to think about how often we do this stuff, where we make such a big deal of like a worst case scenario is like okay, I just have a negative experience. Can I handle that? I feel like when you realize it’s that way, of course you can. And it makes it so much easier. I know for me, I used to have like such a hard time picking restaurants and it was like well, am I going to like the food? I'm like okay, even if I don't, I'm going to eat in three hours again, who cares? Even if it's terrible. Okay, I learned, I won't go back to that restaurant. It's not that serious. And yet, like we're so terrified of making the quote unquote wrong decision. Like what if I ended up not loving every minute of this? I feel like once you can learn to kind of have your own back and realize like yeah, okay maybe I won't like it. It makes it easier to start making those decisions. Right. But going back to the kind of the bigger decision of like let's say your career, no one's going to ever give you that certainty. And so you're going to have to make the decision based on other things. You're going to have to make the decision based on what you want right now. Now the second thing that you do with this like making a right quote unquote right versus wrong decision and why you make it so unbearably difficult is that you think that one decision is going to be the secret to your happiness right? Behind door number one is all of our dreams. It's our dream life. We're going to ride into the sunset and it's going to be rainbows and butterflies and I'm not going to have stress. And I'm going to pat myself on the back and tell myself what a great decision I've made. So good at making decisions. Oh my God, this changed my life. And now I have my ideal life and everything is just wonderful. And then behind secret door number two, if I make that wrong decision, I'm going to be filled with regret and agony. And I'm going to be sad and depressed. I'm going to hate myself. I'm going to have to beat myself up all the time. It's going to ruin my life. Right? Like I mean, we we put so much pressure as if like there was one right decision where the secrets to all of our desires lies. And then there's a wrong decision where all of our agony is hiding behind. And of course, if those are your options then you better pick the right one and like how are you going to know? Because you have no idea what's behind either door. So you're just going to sit and agonize over it. You can't take a step forward. But as you know, because you've listened to this podcast, hopefully, and if you're new, you might want to go back to the episode of life is both good and bad. Every decision that you make will be both good and bad, will be 50/50. Okay. There's not one decision that you're going to make where you don't have a negative emotion. I mean, it doesn't just like magically take you out of the human experience and you never feel stressed anymore. Nope. Even if it's the thing you love. I've talked about this a lot like I feel the most fulfilled I've ever felt in my life. I love this business and I yet, still hate about 50% of it. Right? There's lots of stuff like the podcast, the coaching that I love. And then there's all the admin stuff and the accounting and marketing and constant content creation and coming up, whatever, all this other stuff. And I'm like oh God, here we go. Right. I've tons of stress. Tons of days where I feel like an imposter, it all comes with the territory. There's just never a time that you're like oh my God, I'm so glad I decided to build a business because it's just been uphill for me. Like it's just been great. No speed bumps. Everything has been wonderful. Really want to pat myself on the back for making such a grand decision. That's not how it works. So you got to take that pressure off of realizing that there's no right decision and there's no secret decision that's going to be your ideal life. There's a decision for you right now. And you get to decide how you're going to like react in on that path. Right? You get to decide that you're going to have your own back. And I'll explain what I mean in a minute for that. But once you understand that like none of your decisions are going to secretly unlock some new future where you're just lounging by the beach and happy all the time.

The third thing that we do is we think these big decisions are permanent. And I want to tell you that the vast majority, I would say like 90% of your decisions… 99% probably, are not permanent. It's just one step. And then you'll take another and then you'll have to make another decision, right? Like you can pivot, even if you take that decision and you realize I don't really want to do this anymore. Okay. Then we get to decide what else you're going to do. Now, most of you have not proven to yourself that you can do this. And that's why it's so hard to make a decision. Because you know, we've been raised in a society that programmed us to pick something at 18 and then you stick with it until you're 65. And when that didn't work out for us, when we were in that first career and we were unhappy, we realize how painful it is to change, right? How painful it is to shed that identity, how painful it is to push against other people's judgments and opinions, how painful it is to walk away. And so we're so terrified of like what if the next one is also not right? Like I can't go through this again. I've already done this once. It's way too painful. So the next one better be it. When you put that kind of pressure on yourself, obviously you're not going to make a decision because you, again, don't have certainty. So how can you know that's going to be it? And the reality is it doesn't have to be it. If you go back and you listen to a lot of like the episodes that I did interviewing people and what would come up in a lot of interviews is that once you jump once, one of the most liberating parts of it is not like what you jump into and like whatever the life you create, is that you really show yourself that it's not as scary as you thought it was. And that opens you up to understanding that like you could do it again and again. And that's why there's so many people that quit then multiple times because that first time when you haven't done it and you've done everything society has told you to do, it seems almost unbearable. But I don't know if you guys have seen, there's like a video of like little boy like super scared to jump into water like freaking out and stuff and it’s like his sister’s like trying to talk him into it and like telling him it's gonna be okay. And he's like freaking out and then he jumps in and like the water's one foot like deep, you know? So like he barely goes up to his legs and I feel like that's what it is. It's like you're on there and you think it's so deep and you think it’s going to be like the most terrifying jump and then you jump and you're like oh, it wasn't that big of a deal at all. All right, I can do that again. Right. And so like you have to sort of prove to yourself that you can do this. And so you have to start normalizing changing your mind. You have to start normalizing to yourself that it doesn't mean anything about you if you decide that something that you had wanted before is something that you no longer want. That doesn't make you a bad person. It doesn't mean you're stupid. It doesn't make you flaky. It doesn't mean anything other than the fact that you have grown into a different person and you have a different choice now. And the more you do that, the more you normalize like changing your mind about anything, right? Like learning new facts. I mean like oh actually, I no longer believe this. Oh, actually I don't actually think this is the right path for me. Oh yeah, I said I wanted to do this and I no longer want to. That's okay. The more you do that, the more you realize like it's actually not that big of a deal and you start reproving yourself that you're allowed to change your mind and that it's not permanent. And I think when you start realizing that, especially on this path to like a new career or to some passion project, or to figuring out your passions, to finding more clarity, it requires you to be able to understand that you have to take these steps because there is no thinking your way to the end of it. You have to take that action. And then you can pivot on that road as you take action. You decide do I like this, do I not? Do I go a little bit left or do I veer right? Do I make a hard left and just get off this road? I mean, you're going to make a decision at every step and every fork in the road. Right. But you got to get started so that you can figure out where those forks in the road are. And so the only way you do that is by realizing I can change my mind. And when I say this and I talk a lot about this, like the only way to do any of this stuff is to, when I say have your own back what I mean is like what we typically do is like today Goli makes a decision and then 2022 Goli doesn't like that decision, right? Decides like uh the just this didn't really work out for us. I don't really want to be going down this path anymore. Okay. Now what we've done in the past is like 2022 Goli goes back and beats up 2021 Goli. It's like I was such an idiot, why would I make this decision? Right. When I didn't have the information I'm going to have in a year. I'm making a decision from a certain standpoint, that's all the information I have. Once I make that decision then I get a ton of new information. Right? I learn a lot of things about that path, about myself, about what I like. And the only way this works is if I don't allow myself to go back and beat up past me, right. If I don't sit and ruminate and how terrible of a person I am for making this decision. If I like give myself that self-compassion and that self-trust of saying oh, that was the best decision for me then, that's what I had decided. And it no longer is. And that's okay, I can learn from this. Right? Like what was I ignoring? What was I looking over? What was I trying to convince myself of? Okay. I can I can see that now. I didn't see that then obviously or I wouldn't have made this decision and I can use that for future decisions but I don't need to use that as a reason to like make myself feel bad or tell myself I'm horrible or whatever. And so the only way any of this works is to make decisions and have your own back is to keep making decisions and have your own back. Right. It's to keep telling yourself like I can change my mind and I'll always have my own back as I go forward. So how you can start making decisions, like I said, is start with small things. Stop giving yourself an out, like what I started with was, you know, picking a restaurant or if somebody would ask me to meet them somewhere, like let's meet at a coffee shop, usually I'd be like where do you want to meet? And I'd give them like three possibilities. And I was like no, stop all this insanity. Just suggest a coffee shop. It does not matter. You don't need to get everybody's opinion about everything. Just make a decision. Right. I started with small things. And then with even bigger things, like I said, making the decision is in an instant. And so a lot of times we torture ourselves going back and forth on the same pieces of information because we won't know anymore until we get on that road. And so Kara Loewentheil has described it as like it's like trying on the same three outfits over and over again and expecting something to change. Like at some point you just had to pick one of the outfits, nothing's changing anymore. Right? So once you have done the initial research into whatever that decision is for yourself, and nothing's going to change, give yourself a deadline. Just so you don't spend all of that mental energy going back and forth over the same three pieces of information and just torturing yourself like decide I'm going to give myself till tomorrow or till next week or next month. I don't care. But like once that deadline comes up, that's it, I'm going to make a decision and I'm not going to go back on it. And I'm not going to keep thinking about it. Like once the decision is made, that's our decision. And I'm going to figure out how do I make the best of that decision, that 50/50, like how do I try to enjoy it? How do I try to make the best of it? And how do I have my own back going forward until I get to the next decision? Okay. Now I will do a whole episode about regret because I've gotten a lot of questions about that, about like how do you do it if you are worried you might regret it later? So we'll talk about that in a future episode. But I want you to also know like you can just decide that you're not going to regret it. You can decide that this is going to be your path, that you're going to make this decision and no matter what, you're going to move forward. You're going to learn things. You're going to pivot. It's going to teach you. It's gonna help you grow. And then you'll make the next decision from there. Alright my friends, go out there and just make a bunch of decisions. Just start deciding all over the place. And if you're thinking about it, if you’re sitting on that fence, thinking about whether I should do this program, just make a decision. Stop torturing yourself. I hope you decide that you want to join me in Stuck to Strategy because I think it is extremely helpful. But even if you don't, I actually like I would rather you just make a decision so that you don't have to keep torturing yourself or you don't have to keep thinking about it. Like don't waste your mental energy. Decide if it's for you or if it's not. If it is, apply, come hang out with me. And if it's not, no worries. I will see you next week here for another episode. Bye you guys.

Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes, it'll help other people find the show. If you want to connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook at Lessons From a Quitter and on Twitter at QuitterPodcast, I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.