Do you suffer from indecisiveness? The way I see it, it is a kind of mental shortcoming, a weakness. Those who are afraid of making choices often keep delaying their decisions. In decision making, there is a false belief that the longer you wait, the better it will be.

I am not suggesting you become impulsive, but at the same time, it is just as daft to keep waiting forever. Decision making is a skill that you can develop over time.

At every step of our lives, we are faced with choices. If you reflect upon the matter, you will find that it is not so much about making right or wrong choices, as much as it is about decision making with the awareness that you are willing to take responsibility for your choices.

You can deliberate and cogitate eternally; it still does not guarantee that you will make the right decision. After all, there is no way of knowing whether a decision is right or wrong at the time you are making it. It is mostly from the outcome that you can gain such knowledge.

What drives your decision making?

At the heart of almost every decision you make, there are three factors: desire, fear and conditioning. Making decisions one way or the other is often dependent upon the benefit you get versus the loss you may incur. If the desire of benefit outweighs the fear of loss, you will choose in favor of the benefit, and vice-versa.

There is no such thing as ‘not making a decision’. This in itself is a decision. Beyond the gain and loss, material or otherwise, one’s conditioning, by society, religion and culture, plays a critical role. “What will others think?” Others’ opinions can influence your decision making, especially if you are not careful about filtering them out.

It is impossible to factor in all the variables of the future. It is, in fact, juvenile to even try that. When you have to make a decision, do so based on what you know and get on with it.

If your decision yields the desired result – rejoice in it. If it does not, then remind yourself that it was a conscious choice you made and that you are willing to bear the consequences. It is not the end of the world. You cannot expect to make only choices that lead to expected outcomes. No matter how intelligent, intuitive, or ingenious one is, it is normal for some decisions to be flawed.

Before making any decision, ask yourself two golden questions:
1. Why am I making this decision?
2. Am I prepared to take responsibility for this decision?
Every choice you make will have a consequence. As long as you are bold enough to take responsibility for your decisions, life will present you with enough opportunities to make better ones.

The Hindsight Trap

When our choices do not lead to a desired outcome, it is natural to believe that we should have done this or we could have done that. Somewhere, you want to believe that you could have corrected your choice, you could have listened to the one who was advising you against it, you could have analyzed things better, you could have waited, and so on and so forth. I call this the Hindsight Trap.

The fact is, you made the best choice you could have at the time. As they say, vision is 20/20 in hindsight. That’s all good, but you are not driving in reverse gear on a freeway. You cannot afford to settle your gaze on the rear-view mirror while you drive forward.

Living by your decision is comparable to driving on the road. You occasionally check your side-view and rear-view mirrors, you pay attention to the traffic around you, you may even change lanes, but you keep moving towards your destination. There are going to be distractions and doubts; it is part of the game. You are good if you can say to yourself, “Given what I know, I am making the best possible decision.” Over a decade ago, I read ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ It is a nice read.

“Clearly, your marks show you haven’t been studying geography at all!” said the teacher. “What’s your excuse?”
“I don’t have any excuse, Ms. Johnson,” little Johny said. “It’s just that my father says the world is constantly changing. So, I thought I should wait until it settles down and then study it.”

Do not keep waiting till eternity comes. When it does, you will be dealing with a different set of challenges. If you want to do something, go ahead and go for it. Only action creates results. Thoughts alone and ceaseless planning lead to an endless path, devoid of the joys of the journey. Such a path has no guiding milestones nor the euphoria of any destination. Only empty words and hollow plans.

If you are serious about learning how to swim, you will have to get your feet wet sooner or later. There is no other way that I know of. Someone may guide you; you may use floaters in the beginning, but eventually, you will have to be on your own, you will have to take charge. If you are bothered by other people’s opinions, watch this short discourse.

It is okay to make mistakes, to make wrong decisions. Accept them. Correct them to the best of your ability and move on. Do not punish yourself. Change is happening now. You are making your decisions in the dead past and the ever-elusive future.

All statements with “could have,” “should have,” and “would have,” denote dead decisions. All statements containing “will” and “shall” reflect your decisions of the future. ‘Now’ is the only truth. In the current context, the simple present and the present continuous, are just about the only two tenses with any substance. All the other ones are simply there to tense you up. 

Peace.
Swami