Do you have choice anxiety? 5 expert tips to become more decisive

April 18, 2022 - 11 min read

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Why is it so important to be decisive?

5 ways to be more decisive

What is the role of decision-making in the workplace?

Being more decisive in the future

Drawing a slip of paper out of a hat at random. Posting an Instagram poll with two outfit options. Writing out a never-ending pros and cons list.

What do these things have in common? They’re all ways to make a choice.

These tactics get the job done. But they’re not always the best methods for making serious decisions.

We all suffer from indecision now and then. It’s safe to say we’ve all felt that anxiety around whether or not we're making the right decision. 

Depending on the circumstances, quick decision-making is tough. But not being comfortable reaching decisions on your own isn’t sustainable. We’ve compiled some tips to teach you how to be more decisive.

Why is it so important to be decisive?

Sometimes we need to make a snap decision and then move on. Dwelling over your options or agonizing about possible outcomes isn’t the best way to spend your day. 

Too many decisions can overwhelm our brains. Too many options make deciding nearly impossible. The average person makes 35,000 decisions daily. In fact, you make decisions all of the time without consciously recognizing them. What shirt do you wear this morning? What will you make for breakfast?  What playlist do you listen to on your lunchtime walk?

In that light, choices seem pretty innocuous. But taken all together, the options sometimes really do seem ... endless.   

With so many choices to make each day, it’s no wonder that anxiety and indecision keep creeping in. Some people have an easy time making major life decisions, like moving to a new city. But those same people might struggle to choose an outfit — and the inverse also exists. 

But being a good decision maker saves you time and increases your productivity. Decisiveness also plays a significant role in setting your goals and achieving them. You can only visualize your path for so long; eventually, you’ll need to move forward.  

Quick decision-making becomes a mentality. It can open doors to the opportunities of our dreams. As author Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” 

Everyone, big or small decision-makers alike, would benefit from being more decisive. Honing your decision-making skills is a critical step towards adaptability and positive change. We won’t sugar coat it —it’s hard work. But it pays off in the long run. 

With BetterUp, one-on-one coaching can provide the perspective and accountability you need to keep going. After all, deciding to be more decisive is only the first step. 

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5 ways to be more decisive

Like self-discipline, communication, and time management, decision-making is a soft skill that requires practice to perfect. Soft skills are also called transferable skills and can easily be used in multiple environments. Employers value these traits because they help you succeed at many types of work.

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Here are five decision-making life-hacks to help you improve in this area:

1. Practice making decisions in your comfort zone

Once you make a choice, sticking to it is hard — and second-guessing ourselves is easy. Yes, stepping outside your comfort zone is good. But when you’re working on making a change, beginning where you feel comfortable makes all the difference.  

Work at your own pace. Carve out half an hour or an hour each day to think about the choices you have to make and what roads make the most sense. 

2. Make small decisions fast

Improving upon any skill requires a good understanding of the fundamentals. In other words: baby steps. 

Don’t start with the big decisions. Instead, practice making smaller decisions. Start with those baby steps, like what you’ll have for breakfast, what to wear, or what to watch on TV. Give yourself a time limit, like thirty or forty seconds, to decide. Then follow through.

Once you feel confident making lots of minor decisions quickly, slowly work your way up to weightier matters. You’ll train your brain to work quicker through constant repetition.

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3. Build yourself up

We don't always make the best decision. But even if it’s not the best decision, what matters is getting back on the horse and trying again. That’s why it’s good to start with small things.

Don’t put yourself down with negative self-talk if something doesn’t work out. Focus on the fact that you tried something new and made a choice at the moment.

4. Get feedback

Taking a step back and evaluating how you build habits helps you grow and prepare for the next time you must decide something. Maybe you tend to decide on something because others do, or you always navigate back to what makes you comfortable. 

Identifying these tendencies is crucial to making a change. And don’t be afraid to ask your family members, friends, teammates, or your coach for feedback on how they perceive your decision-making abilities. 

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5. Don't fear mistakes

Making the wrong decision — and thus, mistakes — is a natural part of life. No one can be completely confident or correct all the time. 

If you’re struggling to decide because you fear being wrong, you must learn to let that go. Mistakes are excellent teachers, and so is flat-out failure

If you make the wrong decision, know that a negative outcome is an opportunity to learn from it and make better choices moving forward.

What is the role of decision-making in the workplace?

Making decisions is a subtle though vital skill, especially at work. Most, if not all, jobs require you to make choices. This helps you stand out as a leader and a reliable coworker. 

Others will notice your professionalism and self-confidence, and they’ll feel comfortable coming to you or asking you to perform specific duties.  

Demonstrating better decision-making capabilities will increase your colleagues' trust in you, and you'll feel empowered because you’ll stop procrastinating and overanalyzing your choices. 

Making effective choices allows you to prioritize tasks and is beneficial in relieving stress. It also allows you to complete assignments you’re not particularly keen on and stay motivated to reach other aspects of your job you enjoy more. 

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Being more decisive in the future

We’ve all found ourselves in that cycle of overthinking. 

The world is filled with many avenues and opportunities and making a choice can be overwhelming. None of us will ever have all the answers, and there isn’t always a “right decision.” The decision-making process takes time and dedication, but it’s always worth it. 

At BetterUp, we’re on a mission to help people everywhere live with greater purpose, clarity, and passion. In a lot of ways, this path to self-actualization is paved with your decisiveness. 

Reaching your full potential starts with looking inward and doing that Inner Work®. With support from a coach, you become your own champion for personal and professional development. Ultimately, you can continue to better yourself. You can also get better at making decisions. 

Developing and sustaining healthy habits takes work and initiative. But we believe in you — and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

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Published April 18, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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