Writer's Life

How to Tame Your Inner Anxious Decision Maker

It was a sunny day, and I was nearing the end of my fourth month of unemployment.


I had two job offers sitting in my email inbox.


Anxiety, excitement, bemusement coursed through me. While I loved the time I had for hobbies and freelancing, the prospect of a full-time job was attractive for my current finances.

Now life presented me with a choice in which job I wanted.

…and it paralyzed me with indecision.


Decisions are inescapable. Life presents everyone with choices where the right answer is subjective.


We live in a world that condemns failure and penalizes those who had made the wrong choice in different ways. Add a dose of anxiety and you’re left stuck in a feedback loop of uncertainty.


‘Big’ versus ‘Little’ Decisions

We all encounter different decisions, either ‘big’ or ‘little.’


Children make ‘little’ decisions. They revolved around which activities to do and pushing your parents’ boundaries. These decisions don’t have that much impact on your life if you chose ‘wrong.’ The ones that did had a clear path to the consequences when making a bad decision.


Adults, however, face both those kinds of decisions and ‘big’ decisions. Those ‘big decisions could be whether you move cities for the next job or stay where you are for your family. Either decision is the ‘right’ decision but their impact can affect you for years to come. Moving away for a job could put you out of reach of aging parents who need help. Staying will limit your earning potential so you take longer to pay off debts.


It is no surprise that those implications can cause decision paralysis.


Unable to Decide

While some people can decide with their gut and move on, others, like myself, tend to scrutinize the choices to where it becomes increasingly hard to decide.


It seems illogical that more information prevents people from deciding, yet it does. More research done past the point of necessity, the more intense the feelings of fear, dread, unease, and future regret fester. We are looking for more than information to help in our decision.


We want to eliminate all elements of uncertainty.


We don’t want to miss anything. We are afraid to have made the wrong choice. Most of those ‘big’ decisions are in unfamiliar territory. Overall, we fear we’ll regret the decision, whichever it may be.


So how do I, someone who struggles with anxiety, move from paralysis to standing firm in my decision?


Power of Quick Decision Making

Now that we see a major barrier to being decisive is the cloud of uncertainty, we can keep that in mind as we take a step forward towards deciding.


If you’re an over-thinker like myself, you recognize it is important to do your research. Referring to my job offer situation, I had my interview notes, the company websites, the offer letters, and the job descriptions. I also had what the industry standard was for an offer to help me decide on pure facts.


The facts alone were balanced. I considered my personal and professional goals. I also needed to understand how the two fit together for each opportunity. I gave myself a deadline to decide, so I didn’t agonize over the decision.

How does my tale end? Well…

I had until Monday to decide. However, I didn’t want to take it into the weekend. Remembering what each company offered and knowing myself, I had already decided.


With a sigh of relief, I sent in my decisions for each offer and went into the weekend with anticipation for the new job I chose.


You will regret some of those choices, others will make you glad. However, you have to make that leap of faith or you’ll never realize it for yourself.


How have you approached ‘big’ decisions? Do you struggle with decision paralysis?

Let me know!


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