Lately I have been thinking about and dealing with indecision. No, scrap that, I have been indecisive my whole life! It's a pest of a thing, to be indecisive. This morning I had an epiphany. I was taking my dog, Lily, for a bushwalk along the firetrail that runs off the back of my parents' place. This track is where some of my best thinking has occurred. Oh yes, many juicy topics have been nutted out on that trail over the past decade. Call me crazy, but I am a big fan of talking to myself out loud. Hahaha, yes, so you think I'm crazy? That's okay! I swear by it. Sometimes when I'm trying to figure out an issue, I find that it helps to either talk it out loud, or tap it out in my PC journal. I've had a security-password protected journal (so don't even bother) on my desktop since 2008. I actually started reading back through it the other day... WELL, that made for some interested reading. o_0. More often than not, if I'm trying to work through an issue, I find that either typing it out or talking aloud, helps me come to a conclusion, or at the very least helps me to come closer to sorting things out. Don't get me wrong, talking to other people is great, but this way you get to come to your own conclusions, and that's really satisfying. Talking out loud is what lead to my "ah-huh!" moment this morning. Personally, I feel that a really good "ah-huh!" moment is up there with some of the most enjoyable things in life.
So: I was pondering decisions, and how I sometimes make ones that turn out to be incorrect, as we all do in life. Then I thought, you know what?
Sometimes you have to make the decision, before you can know what is the right or wrong choice.
What do I mean by that? You can get stuck in a rut, going round and round in circles, trying to make a decision. You can weigh up the pros and cons, you can imagine how the situation will play out from all angles, you can try to approach the situation in the most thorough way possible, but sometimes, until you actually make a decision (as in, properly commit and start heading down a path) you might not know what the best path is.
Have you ever spent ages weighing something up, trying to make the right decision – whether it be something as basic as what takeaway to order for dinner or whether to attend an event, or something life-altering such as moving cities, studying or changing jobs – then you made what you thought was the best decision, only to then experience emotions about that decision which then led you to question the decision? Let's use the important analogy of takeaway food. You're trying to decide between Pizza & Thai for dinner; you spend two hours weighing up the decision, before finally declaring that you want Thai, only to be suddenly flooded with horrendous feelings of sadness and remorse. Ergo, you really wanted pizza, you just didn't realise it til you committed to a choice.
Change your mind and have the pizza.
So what I'm thinking is: alleviate your guilt, and give yourself a break if you make a decision and start heading down a path only to start having regrets. There's no shame in backtracking, in fact, I think it shows gumption. What's more stupid: changing your mind, or sticking with the wrong decision just to preserve your ego? Regrets do suck, but they can be very useful if they alert you that you're doing something/heading somewhere you're not too fussed about. Think of regrets like helpful signals, telling you to think and possibly reassess. The same can be said for many uncomfortable emotions. Feeling shit? Good. Why are you feeling shit? Fix it.
So, basically, if I'm really struggling with indecision in spite of trying my level best to make the "right" choice, I'm going to make an effort to just DECIDE, even though it can be scary (nothing scarier than ordering Thai when you actually wanted pizza) and start heading down that path, and see how it feels. And if it feels wrong, I'll to not beat myself up, but to focus instead on taking actions to correct things, even if it means changing my decision completely. You have to stop caring so much what other people think about you and your life decisions, because your happiness is the only thing that matters. We're no use to anyone, if we put up with situations that make us unhappy, just to appease others, or because we're scared. When all is said and done, sad sacks aren't particularly useful.
If you think about it this way: if you decide to start heading down a path, and it turns out to be a not-so-great one, you can (often*) take steps to correct that, and this process will (often) be easier in the long run, than just staying stuck in the whirlpool of indecision, and possibly always wondering "what if?".
Sometimes when I need to nut things out, I also put them on this blog :)
*Disclaimer: Does not include the decision to explore parenthood.