Decisiveness is all about making choices and sticking to them.
That sounds easier than it is. Every choice you make has an impact on the course of your life and the problem with choices is that we haven’t “first handily” experienced all the possible options. For a great deal, we are left to our imagination and gut feeling when it comes to determining which option will be the best for us.
The dilemmas we face in life are never “black and white”.
It’s tempting to stick with what’s already there but keep in mind that not making a choice is also a choice. Consider that it also has very real consequences. The way to start being decisive is to follow up on your decisions with conviction and moral clarity.
The following steps will help you to do that.
1. Be aware of the responsibility to be decisive
We never make decisions out of the blue. They are often already “floating” through our mind for a while before we speak them into existence.
We make decisions usually because we are not satisfied with our current situation and we want to change something. The thing is that other people are also involved in our current situation. They will be affected by our decision but even more by our discontent regarding the situation as it is. Imagine this scenario: your partner has been dissatisfied with your relationship for a long time. He or she is too scared to break up and instead starts to disconnect emotionally while leaving you wondering what is happening.
Would you ever want to do that to a person? This is why it’s important not to let a bad situation fester, but to make a decision instead.
It’s better for all involved.
2. Inform others of your decision
Your surroundings can be a great support when it comes to making a decision and sticking with it. They can support and motivate you. They can also serve as a constant reminder.
Make sure you choose the right people to share your decision with. There are those who will always ridicule or patronize your decisions “Ah yes, here is something we never heard before.” These people will certainly not help you in sticking with your plans.
3. Be accountable
Every decision you make will have consequences (1). Some of them you won’t like.
However, you can’t get angry at the world for not reacting to your decision the way you want it to. This can be frustrating indeed. However, accepting the consequences and dealing with them helps you to own your decision. You can only be proud of your choice when you know you stood by it, no matter what reactions or struggles you faced. Being angry will consume all your energy and will end up with you defining yourself as a victim.
4. Choose for yourself
Once there was a woman who had an important position in a company with lots of responsibilities. She was, however, tired of her job and wanted a change. She remembered how she wanted to be a teacher when she was a child. Unfortunately, there were busy times in the company and she felt she couldn’t leave her colleagues behind to deal with the turmoil.
I asked her: “So, you think it’s better that they are stuck with an unmotivated leader during these busy times?”
The truth is that you can’t spare somebody else’s feelings at your own expense (2). If you make a decision that’s not really coming from you, you will eventually end up not making a genuine decision at all
5. Give yourself time to prepare
Acting upon the decision you made is scary. You need to pump yourself up to do it.
Give yourself that time. If you start to blame yourself for not immediately doing it, you will connect your new decision with emotions like guilt and self-doubt. Trust that your ability to act will come when you are actually ready for it (3).
6. Just do it
Okay, you feel ready? Great! So now it’s time to quit that job, speak those unspeakable words, go to that gym or book that flight. This is maybe the hardest part but to be truly decisive you have to, at some point, face the point of no return.
This can only happen through action and those actions are yours to take.
7. Focus on the positive outcomes
Every decision you make means that there is another decision you are not making. Every path you take is another left behind.
This is really great! Imagine this, you have a whole new path take, with all kinds of new adventures ahead. There is no use looking back at what you have left behind. When you decide to break up a relationship, you will miss the intimacy, sure, but there is so much to enjoy about the new freedom you gained. When you are going on a diet you will miss the food, yes, but realize how great it is to be slim and fit. Sure, you are now making less money but nothing can replace the feeling you get from following your heart.
Sometimes people tend to focus on what they left behind after making a decision. This is counterproductive. Even if you do decide to return to the old situation, it’s simply not there anymore.
Once you have made a decision nothing will ever be the same. Isn’t that great?
8. Stick with it (it’s not all fun and games)
After you made the decision and you experience the consequences, you will find out that some of them are not that great or that the new life you created offers some of the same old, same old. That is absolutely no reason to think you made the wrong decision!
It’s just life challenging you to remain decisive and stick with your initial plan. Anybody can be decisive when all is great. It takes some character strength to stay that way when the benefits are only in the big picture.
9. Make a new decision
Life is always evolving and that’s what makes is too unpredictable and exciting. You will find new choices throughout different events and one will sound better than the other.
That’s a luxury you can fully enjoy and if you are fortunate enough to have the strength to make decisions, life will be full of adventures for you. However, it’s important to enjoy the decision you made and all that came from it. Jumping from one decision to the next is also a form of indecisiveness since it won’t allow you to fully connect to what you got. It will make you erratic and without steady ground under your feet. Just enjoy and make the new decision when the time for that comes.
When you follow these steps and create the mindset to go with it, you will be as decisive as you can be. All your decisions will be good ones since you are the one making them.
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