I spend far too much time and energy deliberating over decisions. As if my life depends on what sandwich I buy, what curry I order or what flights we book. Lewy is more decisive. However, ten years with me has taken its toll and occasionally he falls into my fretting ping pong game. These conversations can go back and forth for months and we end up going slightly insane.
Here is proof. When I tell friends or family about our latest life plans, they say ‘lovely’ knowing that this means we will change our plans five more times before booking. This process will require lots of head nodding and requested advice falling on half tuned ears.
When Mum came to visit in August 2018, she made a kind observation that only Mums can make. I can’t quite remember if I answered defensively or just hugged her and said ‘you totally get me’. She observed that I often appear to make my decisions based on what I think will keep everyone happy. If I just voiced my choice at the beginning of the decision journey, all bases would be covered and negotiated, leading to fewer plan changes. This sounded interesting.
My interpretation: trying to please everyone and then annoying the hell out of them when I change plans multiple times, isn’t fun for anyone! I should be more assertive, negotiate and have something slightly resembling gumption (thank you Kate Winslet).
Wasting useful time
I’ve been listening to Cathy Heller’s podcast ‘Don’t Keep Your Day Job‘ thanks to a reco from my pal Nash (reco should, if it isn’t, be Aussie slang for recommendation). I have a 30 minute walk to work, up a big hill, so I listen with my headphones, panting, sweating and saying hello to my everyday stranger pals.
I’ll be nodding along, smiling with each epiphany. Then every once in a while I shout ‘holy shit this is genius’ so I have to share the link with someone. One holy shit genius moment was this advice: “When you make a decision, it isn’t usually the decision itself that matters. What matters is that you made it quickly and can then be flexible.” I like this.
My interpretation: make a decision but reserve the right to change it. Always buy refundable flights, ask Lewy to buy the other curry I want and buy two sandwiches. I feel like this is going to change my life.
Spending valuable energy
This is something that would change my life, and Lewy’s, if I stopped going round in circles. You may think that we float around the world, choosing willy nilly where to live and utterly going with the flow. But I’m afraid that isn’t so. Really it took us four years of deliberating about Australia before we booked flights. I have researched doing a Masters for six years, I even applied and declined an offer. I spent so much mental energy going over these choices and trying to control the outcomes.
So once again, I am walking to work in the glaring sunshine when Cathy’s podcast gives me a Monday morning realisation. It was something along the lines of: “Don’t worry about what you can’t control, only spend time and energy on things you can control and then make them happen.” Hallelujah.
My interpretation: I have no idea where we will be in three months let alone next year and this is scary. So don’t spend time thinking about it while I have no control. Instead book a holiday to Dave’s wedding in California, because this is a positive decision that we can control and that will lead to joy and happiness. Job done – flights booked (refundable of course!).
Three rules for decision making
Based on logical observations from my Mum and Cathy Heller I therefore have three new rules (which I reserve the rights to change at any time):
- Be honest about what I actually want to do
- Make decisions quickly and provide a get out clause
- Only spend energy thinking about decisions I can control
I would love to hear if you suffer from the same lack of decision making skills as I do, and also what solutions you have found to help you. I’ll keep you posted on progress!