“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” —John C. Maxwell
Last week, I posted about how I was struggling to make decisions.
I came up with a 3 step plan to be more decisive. The 3 steps were these:
- Use the 5-second-rule in which I give myself 5 seconds from the moment I decide to do something to get up and go
- Follow my heart and/or stop overthinking
- Have fun
I also added a fourth step once I got going. It’s a very important step that kept me motivated and it was this –
- Each morning, write some variation of the mantra:
“I am capable of making decisions and sticking to them!”
Okay, so, how did the week go?
The 5-second-rule showed up more at the beginning of my week. I didn’t exactly think “5-4-3-2-1-GO,” but I did make quicker choices with the 5-second-rule in mind. I didn’t sit around and deliberate the order of my next moves or if I should or shouldn’t do things.
On the second day, I didn’t feel caged by time and I felt content with the choices that I made.
That contentment came from following my heart. Though I find that advice frustratingly vague, there is something to it. It’s very similar to the 5-second-rule in that you don’t give yourself a lot of time to make decisions, you just do.
When I was able to make choices without overthinking or analyzing, I had more time to take action and I felt at peace with the decisions I did make.
On the third day, I opened up an honest conversation with someone and I found it difficult to shake the emotions of the situation. Normally, I would be frustrated with myself for letting my emotions control me in that way, and it was frustrating, but I chose to step away from what I felt I needed to get done that day and focus more on enjoyable tasks. It’s a decision that would normally make me feel guilty and incapable, but instead, I felt like I’d chosen well for myself.
I also changed my mind on day three. It was a small decision between watching a show or heading to bed early, but I’m pleased with myself for finding the balance between sticking with a decision and recognizing that sometimes the first decision we make isn’t quite right. I had turned on the TV and was getting ready to wind down when I realized that I was way too tired to stay up for another hour so I turned off the TV with ease. I took the dog out and went to bed early.
On Day 4, I followed a self-made routine.
I absolutely loved the freedom within the structure.
The structure allowed me to make decisions about how to spend my time with ease because my morning was planned. While a routine doesn’t necessarily seem to fit in the “follow your heart” territory, I found the structure gave me more opportunities to follow my heart. I felt accomplished by noon so after lunch I felt free to go with the flow because I didn’t have any guilt about not getting a lot of work done in the morning.
On Day 5, I woke up with a headache and felt really frustrated when I couldn’t find any relief from the tension because it seemed like I was straying from my new-found routine way too soon, but I acknowledged that discomfort and found a compromise. I stuck to half of my routine, and then took a nap since none of my other efforts at calming my headache were working. I made the choice without guilt or fear that I was doing something wrong and when I woke up, I had relief from the headache and was able to enjoy the rest of the day.
On day 6, I traveled out of town to see a friend. I hadn’t driven to her house in a while and I couldn’t remember with 100% clarity what road I needed to turn on, but I made the decision to trust that it would come to me as I drove, and it did!
That evening, once I was home, I made quick decisions about how to spend the rest of my day without my usual careful and annoying deliberation.
On the last day of this initial decisive experiment, I made quick decisions about how to spend my money when purchasing a gift for my sister and a workout package for myself.
Money is the area where I struggle the most when making decisions.
I understand that quality purchases cost more, but I also experience a lot of stress about spending large sums of money at once, but it was important to me to splurge for my sister since she’s celebrating a big accomplishment this May when she graduates from college. The workout package was an unexpected splurge for myself as well, quite honestly, but I’m glad that I went for it because it’s a bundle of workout classes that I will enjoy and it’s an investment in my health.
The 5-second-rule wasn’t something that I practiced with a lot of mindfulness, but because I made an intention to be more decisive, I made decisions that worked within a 5-second-rule-ish ideal.
I chose an action and went with it, rather than overthinking. Because I didn’t spend a lot of time analyzing my decisions, I ended up following my heart and having fun.
The three steps I created had an unintentional domino effect that made following them quite effortless.
There are some decisions in life that will require careful deliberation. It would be irresponsible of me not to say so. I’m a firm believer in researching big purchases like computers or cars or other items with hefty price tags. When I graduate and start interviewing for jobs, it will be important that I make a mindful decision because in the past I’ve jumped into jobs simply because they were offered to me, and that never works out too well. Like all things in life, there’s a balance. However, there comes a time when careful deliberation gets stretched too thin and you just have to make the leap.
While none of the decisions I made over this week had an earth-shattering impact, the practice of making decisions without distress is what I wanted to get out of this experiment. If I can make decisions fluidly when it comes to the small, everyday stuff, then it will be easier to make the bigger decisions, too.
The other benefit from this experiment that I hadn’t anticipated, was how much more content I’ve felt. It’s exhausting to constantly be deliberating over every decision every day.
Sometimes it takes a bit of extra effort to get going with a decision, but ultimately deciding and acting is less effort than deciding and analyzing.
Do you struggle with being indecisive? Does indecision negatively affect your life? How might you coach yourself to turn decision making into a less stressful process?
Go forth, will you, and be decisive. You are capable of making decisions and sticking to them.