Decisions, decisions

Fellow overthinkers, where you at?

All my life, I have struggled with decision-making. Everything from the question of, “What should I do with my life?” to the life-altering decision of where to eat for dinner leaves me with more anxiety that I’m comfortable with. Like I do with other characteristics typical of those born between September 23rd and October 23rd (requiring balance in order to be happy, for one), I often chalk it up to being a classically indecisive Libra.

But just because I have a not-exactly-thorough explanation of why I’m that way doesn’t mean I shouldn’t challenge or examine it.To my similarly struggling friends, let’s look at the bright side. Pros do exist in this situation– it means we’re rarely rash in our judgments, and as a a result, we put a lot of thought into things. (Pink sparkles or purple sparkles? Oh, I don’t know, just ALL OF THE SPARKLES.)

Another common tendency associated with indecision is agreeableness. (No red squiggly line under that one. Yup, it’s a word. “Agreeability” is not. Moving on…) Which seems good on the surface, until the point where you become merely submissive to what everyone else wants you to do. When offered the choice between two movies, do you respond cheerfully with, “Whatever you want to watch”? That’s pretty harmless, albeit annoying if that’s always your answer. But when applied to just about any other important decision in life, it weakens your confidence in your own abilities. A backbone that remains under-exerted loses its ability to support. There is a difference between asking for advice and asking others to make life’s tough choices for you.

I’ve always admired those who make decisions without the agony I so often feel. Even if they’re ultimately the wrong decisions, as long as they’re not reckless, at least the person wasn’t afraid to make them in the first place. It’s something I’ve often worried will hold me back from doing incredible things, but my fears are lessened by the knowledge that at least I’m self-aware enough to realize I’m that way and have the power to change that about myself.

That’s why the quote above resonates with me so much. The message is simple really: pursue happiness, and happiness with ensue. Oh my gosh, I think I just came up with an (almost) equally as awesome quote. I recently came across another one that I like. And this is for all you overthinkers out there:

The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize. – Robert Hughes

So for those of you who can relate to my own struggle, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone… and that you’re probably way better off than you give yourself credit for. Screw self-deprecation and doubt. Challenge yourself to figure it out on your own.

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  1. Hi! I forget how I stumbled across your site, but I really like this post a lot. I’m totally the same way – I agonize over every decision, big or small, and it’s kind of silly/unnecessary. One technique that really helps a lot is the “Will I care about this decision in a year?” question. If the answer is no, which it often is, just choosing something becomes a lot easier.

    • That is a great trick! Really puts it in perspective. I’ll have to implement that into my decision-making dilemmas.

  2. I hate, hate, hate decision making. Which I think is why I never changed my major (I liked it, but once I had the idea I didn’t even question it), why I’m still at the same part-time job I’ve had since high school (I wouldn’t be able to figure out where to go otherwise), why my friends always pick where we go to eat.

    Mostly, I am just extremely easy-going and, as you said, agreeable. I really don’t mind letting others decide the simple things because I don’t usually care the outcome. But with bigger decision… that’s where it gets kind of hairy.

  3. That quote is perfect!! I’m a Libra too, and although I wouldn’t describe myself as indecisive, I have SO many big plans that I rarely follow any of them all the way through. That quote is such a perfect reminder to keep striving for excellence though, even when doubts can make me question why I am.

  4. I can definitely relate to this. It’s to the point where going out with my hubby is so annoying because when we try to figure out where to go, we both go “Oh wherever you want.” My biggest current issue is that I didn’t get into graduate school this year so I’m freaking out thinking my entire life plan is ruined. It’s a fun time…

    • Bah. Yeah, disappointments like that make it even tougher when you’re trying to figure out, “Well, NOW what am I going to do?” What you’re going through now will be a very real and scary possibility for me soon, but I’m trying to remind myself that grad school isn’t the end-all-be-all.

  5. I’m pretty good with big decisions, but smaller decisions (like what to eat or what book to read) are much harder for me.

  6. As a fellow Libra, I also have a skewed take on interpersonal relationships and giving and receiving opinions: do not ask unless first told, and do not tell unless first asked. I don’t pry into people’s personal lives unless they choose to open up to me, while I do not return that favor to anyone but if they ask I am more than willing to tell. My take on it is that I’m an open book, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to read it out to you.

    And to provide another little quote, and this one is far more simple but ties in with this theme very well: Perception is reality. Think of yourself as a crazy person, and you will indeed be a crazy person. ;P

  7. Libras unite!!! I feel very mixed about this topic, because I often struggle with indecisiveness, but there are just as many times when I want to do something or go somewhere with such an intense level of decisiveness and desire that it’s almost scary, and then when I don’t get it, I crash and burn with sadness. However, both kinds of situations make me anxious, and hoooo baby, the over thinking…every. little. thing. I love how much I can relate to everything that you write, m’dear.

    • What you just described is one thing I forgot to mention! If I ever DO express my opinion on what I want to do, it means I REALLY want to do it. Deny me that occasional request, and I get pissy.

  8. Oh my I feel like I could have written this myself ( only your version is much more witty and well written haha) I do this with every single decision. It gets so annoying sometimes. I really wish I could be more spur of the moment like some of my friends but alas, no lol. My husband is the same way which tends to make things interesting lol.

  9. Great post, and timely, thank you, Cassie!

    (I also like Dara’s question, “Will I care about this in a year?”

    I’m considering taking a leave of absence from my stable, decent paying, full benefits job…that bores me to tears and has for months now. This is a BIG DECISION. The fear is paralyzing, but my body/soul are telling me that I need to take a leave to re-orient myself. To find something more ‘me’!

    • DO IT! It is a bold and scary move, but man… nothing like freedom away from soul-crushing boredom. Do it do it do it. (It’s so much easier to make decisions for someone else, isn’t it? :))

  10. I can identify with this a bit, in that I do agonize over decisions on occasion, although usually quite quietly and internally, so that often when I actually take action or share my decision, it can look from the outside like it was made quickly and confidently (or maybe just rashly, depending on who’s looking).

    I am pretty good though, at once having made a decision, just sticking to it, determinedly going forward with it and letting all of the other options just fall away. If it turns out to be the wrong path, I’ll adapt, learn, or do better next time, but I refuse to constantly second-guess myself after the fact.

    That stuff can drive a gal to madness.

  11. I love that quote! I feel so much better about myself now, lol, because I have the SAME FREAKING PROBLEM! I’m horrible at decision-making. It drove my mom nuts when I was in high school, especially around the time when I was about to start college. I’d gone for a whole year saying I wanted to major in sports and entertainment management and become some sexy NASCAR driver’s PR rep, and then over the summer I was like, “JK! I actually want to read books and write papers ALL THE DAYS.” And my mom was like 😒. So, yeah, I know exactly what you’re talking about it. The only things I’m always certain about no matter what is my faith and my love for my sister. Everything else causes me great turmoil. Okay, maybe not GREAT, but mild levels of anxiety, at least.

    I want to get better at it, but I maintain that it’s just a part of growing up and becoming an adult, and making decisions gets at least somewhat easier over time, but I don’t think it will ever be as easy for me as it is for others. I always thought that was a bad thing, but maybe it’s not. I think it’s probably worse to be blindly certain than it is to be honestly certain. I see complete and total honesty as a broad way of looking at the world. Nothing is ever black and white, which makes life especially difficult for those who see that grey area. And I am nothing if not a person immersed in grey area.

  12. When it come time to make decisions, I’m very wishy-washy. Like, do you want to go out tonight? That starts a whole self-debate with: do I want to change from my pjs? If I go out, will I be home to feed the dogs? do I need a shower? do I want to be out that late? do I want to spend the money to go out? would I rather do something at home? It’s ridiuclous.
    My solution was to start working backwards with decision making. The best example would be, “We’re going out, what do you want to eat?” When the group has reached the “whatever you want” stalemate, I start with, “What do you NOT want?” This helps you eliminate options so you can narrow your focus on what you DO want… which is way less overwhelming for me.

  13. “So for those of you who can relate to my own struggle, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone… and that you’re probably way better off than you give yourself credit for. Screw self-deprecation and doubt. Challenge yourself to figure it out on your own.” LOVE THIS. Oh so true, and something I needed to be reminded of. I have trouble making important decisions, little ones aren’t so hard, agonizing over making the wrong decision like there’s no going back. but 9 times out of 10 there IS going back and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. All bookmarked in “things to remember, NYC!”

  14. I love this post. You articulated the struggle so well. I drive EVERYONE around me crazy with my indecisiveness (I have two phone apps that are ‘decision makers’ and I don’t use them ’cause I can’t decide which one to use when). I will be using Dara’s trick, that sounds excellent – and I, too, feel quite strongly if I have bothered to speak up and I will get pissy when my huge life event (of decision making) is ignored. I love this line: “when applied to just about any other important decision in life, it weakens your confidence in your own abilities. A backbone that remains under-exerted loses its ability to support.” Word.

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