9 Common Reasons Why You Are So Indecisive

By Chris Kolmar - Jan. 19, 2021
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Indecision. We all struggle with it sometimes, but when you find yourself overwhelmed and anxious over simple decisions, something might be off.

Often, indecision can be chalked up to a personality trait. While this can be true sometimes, you shouldn’t accept indecisiveness that runs rampant in your life, to the point that making important decisions can feel nearly impossible.

No one wants to feel like a deer in the headlights when they’re asked if they want to take a promotion, or god forbid, what they want for dinner.

While decision making is simply coming to a conclusion after taking the time to express all of your thoughts and feelings, the truth is that many people don’t even know what they’re thinking or feeling. If that feels like you, you’re not alone.

So what do you do?

Well, knowing the common causes of any issue is the first step toward addressing it. If you were a doctor, you couldn’t properly treat a fever if you didn’t know what was causing it.

With that in mind, this article will outline nine common causes of indecision, as well as how you can tackle them.

9 Causes of Indecision

When discussing the nature of indecision, it’s important to note that you may not struggle with each and every cause.

Instead, you should analyze yourself and try to pinpoint a few major causes you may be struggling with. When you do that, the causes will be much easier to address.

Here are nine of those causes outlined:

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  1. Perfectionism. When you find yourself obsessing about the quality of your work, trips, food, or anything really, this perfectionism can easily impact your decision making as well.

    For many people, the thought of things not going to plan or making mistakes can feel completely intolerable.

    Think of it this way; let’s say you’re offered some overtime. You could use the money, but your current schedule will have to be altered or canceled if you take the extra hours. You might feel paralyzed because you’re worried about making the “wrong” decision.

    That’s your perfectionism getting in the way.

    Instead of thinking about things in terms of “right” and “wrong,” you should rationally analyze each option’s pros and cons. Then, when you do make a decision, keep in mind that you’re not making a mistake.

    Remember, every decision will have benefits and downsides, so there will never be an inherently “perfect” decision. Remember that, and simply choose what you feel works best for you.

  2. People-pleasing. If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you know the never-ending struggle to make decisions. Maybe you dread the classic, “What do you want for dinner, honey?” or “Where do you want to go today?”.

    Is everyone in a relationship indecisive?

    Interestingly enough, this kind of indecision might be caused by us overanalyzing others when trying to decide or putting too much emphasis on what other people want.

    For instance, if you know your partner likes to eat at restaurant A, but you prefer restaurant B, you might feel incapable of deciding. You assume your partner will want to eat at restaurant A, so you don’t want to upset them, but you also have to be honest with what you want.

    From that perspective, it’s clear that these “mind games” can affect all kinds of decision making, even outside of relationships.

    At work or school, we might struggle to make decisions because we know what someone else wants and don’t know whether we want to do what they want or what we want.

    There’s no definitive right or wrong side, but you should never sell yourself short and fall into the habit of excessive people-pleasing.

  3. Parental struggles. Even when we’re well into adulthood, our parents’ decisions and personalities can have a lasting effect on us.

    Maybe you grew up with overprotective and controlling parents, so you lack experience making your own decisions. In this case, you might be overly worried about how your parents will judge your decision making or not even be sure where to begin.

    Additionally, if you grew up around an indecisive parent, you may have unintentionally copied their behavior.

    In both cases, the best thing you can do is try to separate yourself from your parents. Instead of stressing out about what they’ll approve of or how they’d make decisions, work on finding your individuality.

    Even if you have to start with small choices, deciding on your own will help you immensely in the long run.

  4. Self-doubt. We all doubt ourselves sometimes, and those doubts can have a significant impact on us when it comes to decision-making.

    Even if you know what decision you want to make or what’s best for you, a lack of confidence can cause you to second guess yourself. You might procrastinate because you feel like your thought process is too flawed to make the right choice.

    Insecurity isn’t easy to tackle, but you can start by acknowledging your skills and accomplishments. When you begin to build up confidence, you’ll find that it’s much easier to pull the trigger on your decisions.

  5. Fear. Unfortunately, fear often goes hand-in-hand with insecurity. No doubt, it’s easy to be afraid of the unknown consequences of our actions.

    For instance, let’s say you’re working two jobs. One offers you a promotion, but the new hours will interfere with your second job.

    You might find yourself fearing the loss of your second job without taking the time to consider that you might be able to negotiate with one or both employers, as well as afford to leave the second job if the new promotion pays more.

    Additionally, you might find yourself afraid to face the responsibility of your actions. After all, no one wants to take the fall for the negative aspects of a consequential decision.

    However, responsibility should be viewed as a positive. Own your actions and work to achieve positive results.

    In the end, by properly analyzing the possible positive results of your decisions, you can avoid paralyzing fear.

  6. Overload. Just as a deer freezes in the headlights of a car, sometimes we can feel paralyzed when we’re faced with too many options.

    Weird, right? Wouldn’t it be better to have more options?

    But think about it. Let’s say someone asks you what your favorite color is. For some people, the sheer number of possible colors to choose from will make answering the question feel nearly impossible. By contrast, when you ask someone whether they prefer red or blue, they’re much more likely to give you a concrete answer.

    With that in mind, being faced with too many options or too many factors that will affect our overall decision can cause us to shut down. Sometimes we don’t know what we want because we feel flooded with options to consider.

    If you struggle with this, try to take a step back and only focus on two or three factors at a time. If necessary, you can even write notes or make lists as you sort through your options.

  7. Overthinking. Often, when you’re trying to think about too many options or too many factors all at once, you might find yourself overthinking.

    Maybe you started thinking about how you should price your homemade cookies and got lost considering the cost of a vintage egg beater. Or perhaps you feel paralyzed because there are simply too many things to consider.

    For many of us, overthinking can cause us to stray from the most important aspects of the decisions we need to make.

    Realistically, we have to admit to ourselves that it’s nearly impossible to calculate every outcome. Simple put, we can’t predict the future. Therefore, sometimes it’s best to acknowledge that there are things of our control.

  8. Change. Small or grand, every decision we make comes with a level of change. Just think about how different your life was ten years ago.

    Unfortunately, even when change is positive, it can feel overwhelming, uncomfortable, or even scary.

    For example, if you lived your entire life living in the same location, and received a job offer that would require you to move across the country, that amount of change could easily make anyone feel uneasy. The unknown is unpredictable, and unpredictable can make us feel like something will go wrong.

    However, it’s important to remember that our lives are ever-changing. We’d never go anywhere if we didn’t open ourselves up to the unknown. With that in mind, consider your options, and embrace change when it comes.

  9. Forgetting your goals. With all these factors affecting our decision-making process, it can be easy to forget the bigger picture. Remember that, for the most part, we’re always trying to make decisions that forward our goals.

    When we become bogged down by overthinking, people-pleasing, self-doubt, etc., we can quickly lose sight of our long term goals.

    Whenever you’re making an important decision, you should take a moment to recall your goals (whether they’re concrete or not). By having a vision for the future and seeing the bigger picture, it’ll be much easier to put your possible decisions into perspective.

Whether you’re only struggling with one of these issues, or you feel plagued by all nine of them, there are ways you can ward off indecisiveness. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Be knowledgeable. When you do your research and know the details of any important decision, you’ll be able to ward off indecisive thoughts.

  • Build self-confidence. Don’t second-guess yourself. When you trust your judgment, you’ll find decision making much easier.

  • Be an individual. While it’s essential to see the value in constructive criticism and advice, you shouldn’t base your decisions on what other people think you should do or want you to do.

  • Let go. Once you accept the fact that you can’t predict and control every outcome and that life is ever-changing, making decisions will feel far less stressful.

  • Simplify. Everything in life can feel a little complicated at times. Nevertheless, instead of letting yourself become overwhelmed by every little thing you should consider, try to simplify your decision-making process.

So what are you waiting for? It’s never too late to start making decisions in a less stressful, more positive way.

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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