I have a hard time making decisions.
Well, that’s only partially true. I actually make decisions very quickly–sometimes instantaneously when faced with a problem to solve or a strategy question. Given an either/or decision to make, give me 30 seconds max. I make decisions about people very quickly too. Your friend-potential is judged within a few minutes. You go on a date with me and within about 15 minutes I know where things are going (or not going).
See…the problem is that even though I pretty much know my path of action from the first moment (which you can argue the merits of if you want to), I then start to doubt myself. I run through the million permutations that a decision could take, then the million permutations of the other decisions I already rejected. I circle fully back to where I started and reaffirm my original decision. Then I start to worry about whether I missed something, and I do it all over again. Sometimes I talk things through with colleagues or friends, and sometimes I just let my own brain run rampant all hours of the night…sometimes about relatively inconsequential decisions. Impending big decisions mean weeks of poor sleep and anxious waking hours.
I think back to some of the decisions that I put off–at work and at home–and I am frustrated by how much mental energy I have expended seemingly unnecessarily. I ultimately follow my original impulse almost always (we’re talking 99% of the time), and yet I spend countless hours and Xanax prescriptions worrying that my impulse is wrong.
Part of me wonders if this is normal for people in general. Another part of me wonders if this is merely a symptom of my Type A personality, my anxiety-prone mind, or if it’s a symptom of people in positions of leadership who still give a damn.
The reason for that last one is that I don’t remember having this kind of waffling on decisions–at work or at home–until I first became a manager several years ago. Maybe I only waffle now because what I do impacts more people (in theory)? Or a fear that a wrong decision will have negative consequences for my career or my colleagues? Or perhaps experience in the managerial seat has taught me that you’d darn well better run through all the scenarios before jumping? Or perhaps the simple experience of time and age has taught me to be more cautious or prudent? Is this simply a sign of a responsible person? Of someone who still cares about the effects of her decisions?
What’s disturbing is that it has definitely bled from my professional life into my personal life. Those personal decisions are just as hard for me to make as the professional ones now. That’s not good.
I have no idea where it comes from…all I have are guesses. I know that the indecision I feel is real. But I still muscle through and make the decisions, including the really big ones, the really hard ones, and the ones that I know will have negative consequences for someone, including me. Ultimately I take the plunge, but I ruminate far too long.
After reflecting on this issue over the last week or so and writing this post, I am going to make a concerted effort to trust my intuition more. My judgement is pretty good both personally and professionally. Sure, sometimes I’m wrong. We all are. But my instinct is usually right, despite my self-doubt. I need to stop self-doubting and learn some self-confidence. I encourage you to do the same.