Do you ever get that awful feeling in your gut when it comes to making decisions? Perhaps it’s the fear of failure, bad consequences and/or criticism from others that puts you in a stall of indecision.
We are commanded to be anxious for nothing (Phil 4:6) yet in our human condition it’s easy to get stuck in the mental and emotional clutter of non-decision. For me making tough decisions sometimes feels like I’m are circling the airport again and again looking for a place to land. But in the meantime, I make myself and everyone around me nuts!
Here are a few questions I’ve learned to ask myself that may also help you get to a decision …
Are you asking for wisdom?“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;” (James 1:5-7). God knows you need wisdom (not simply knowledge) and He gives it generously. Notice, however, that in order to receive God’s wisdom, you must ask in faith and not doubt. The answer from God depends on your steadfastness and assurance in God.
Are you afraid to make a wrong decision? Sometimes the plan is to take the wrong path. Often the “right” decision doesn’t present itself until you stick a stake in the ground and start heading in one direction or the other. So what if you go the wrong way? There is nothing like being on the wrong path to clearly illuminate the right one. So simply switch paths and you’re on your way! Wisdom is most often gained on the wrong path. If you are afraid of the ridicule from others, remember they have the benefit from hindsight that you didn’t have at the time. Consider also that you are now prepared to help others behind you. When they ask your advice, you can honestly give insights based on experience from both sides of the equation.
Do you see lions in the road? “The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!” (Proverbs 22:13). This is a picture of the foolish sluggard who hates to work. When forced into it the fool always sees bizarre excuses, obstacles or danger (portrayed by a lion) in his path. “It is a foolish thing to frighten ourselves from real duties by fancied difficulties.” (Matthew Henry). When faced with difficult obstacles to decisions, I ask myself, “Is this a lion? Am I making excuses because I’m afraid? What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?”
Are you overwhelmed? Decisions can stack up. Focusing on them one at a time is better than addressing the entire stack at once.
Is it time to stop researching? I have a friend who drives her husband crazy because she has to research EVERYTHING into the ground. Obviously, if you take care not to fall down that rabbit hole of analysis paralysis, doing your homework and asking for expert advice can boost your confidence. However, in most cases absolute clarity will never come. Though you may be unsure, at some point you still have to make a call.
Are you unwilling to shelve it and be patient? This is not the same as indecision. Indecision builds up steam and forces you into firefighting mode later. Rather, this is an intentional decision to shelve something by putting it on your calendar to consider at a later date. Mental and emotional energy is wasted when you spin, spin, spin about making a decision when the timing is wrong. An unwillingness to shelve it for now can also damage your relationships. In my own marriage I have to watch it that I don’t put pressure on my husband to make a decision when it’s simply not possible.
When you start making decisions, you’ll no longer be ruled by apprehension and fear. Yes, you will occasionally make wrong decisions but consider the courage and strength gained through the lesson so you no longer have to be afraid. It’s time to clear the clutter and start making choices.
What strategies do you use for easier decision making?