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Wanna know something not many people know about me?
I can be very indecisive. For me, even the smallest decisions can be hard to make. What shoes should I wear? What should we have for dinner? Should I take my dog, Jack, for a walk or play fetch instead? I spend so much energy trying to make decisions. I overanalyze every situation, I procrastinate making decisions, and sometimes, I just completely avoid making decisions by deferring to others.
I say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter to me! You decide!” Or… my husband hates it when I do this… He’ll say, where do you want to go to dinner? And I’ll say, “I don’t care, you decide,” and then he’ll choose a restaurant, and I’ll say, “Oh no, not there!” because really, the decision DID matter to me!
Spending too much time on daily decision-making can be a huge waste of time and energy! Making decisions is something that didn’t come naturally to me. It was uncomfortable, so I put it off and that’s when it became exhausting and stressful.
Does this sound like you at all? If so, you have probably felt the effects of being indecisive in every corner of your life, especially when it comes to your nonprofit. Think about all the decisions you have to oversee at your organization – how you help people, how to raise money, who to hire, how to lead your volunteers and staff, how to market your organization, what your brand – your logo, your colors, your website, your EVERYTHING looks like! You have so many decisions in your basket as a nonprofit leader – and those are just a few of the decisions you make!
But here’s what I’ve learned about making decisions in my life:
If I set aside time to think about my bigger choices BEFORE the moment I need to say what I think or act, it’s a million times easier for me to decide. I take time to think about things beforehand, then I don’t get as stressed out or worry, I don’t waste time overthinking the situation, and I don’t say, “Oh I don’t care, you decide!” I end up with what I actually want!
Here’s the good news… Decision making is a skill that you can practice. Yes, you can practice making decisions and get better at it. It can actually become easier for you! Don’t we all want that? It’s not hard or magic and you can start practicing today.
Three little tricks that help me make decisions every day.
1. Stop overanalyzing
My friend Sherrie said something to me the other day on the phone… She said, “I’m 62 years old, and I’ve spent so many years of my life worrying about what might happen, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that most of the time nothing happened, but I sure did lose a lot of sleep over it.”
If you struggle with overthinking things – you’re not alone. I’ve had my fair share of sleepless nights and stressed out days worrying and overanalyzing decisions I needed to make. I thought every decision had to be the perfect one.
Overanalyzing is like when you’re doing the dishes, and the sink is getting clogged up with water. You want to turn on the disposer, but you’re afraid there’s a spoon in the drain. The water keeps filling up, it’s not going anywhere, the sink is not going to drain unless you turn on the disposer, but you don’t want to put your hand in the drain to feel around for a spoon. So, you just sit there and watch the water rise. Maybe you turn off the water, but the sink isn’t draining. It’s stagnant. It’s better to turn on the disposer and drain the water – and if there’s a spoon in there, that’s OK! Maybe next time you reach in to check because you learned that this time when you didn’t check – you slightly damaged a spoon. The point is – you have to be willing to make a choice. You can’t just live with a clogged sink.
You can rebound and learn from a poor decision. You can learn quickly and move forward. Whereas with no decision, you’re not making the situation worse, but you’re not making it better either. You can only move forward or backward in life – if you make a mistake, or a poor choice, you can learn from it and move forward – you just have to be brave enough to do it. And you, my friend, are called to be brave. So, stop overthinking, and practice being brave but learn from those decisions.
2. Find positive influences to help you learn
Find people in your life and learn from them how they make decisions. These days you can learn in so many ways - listen to podcasts (like this podcast!), stories that inspire you, interviews of people you admire and read books that teach you something or listen to books online. Spend your time learning and pay attention to how others are making decisions. Learn from their examples.
3. Make smaller decisions
Mother Teresa said, “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” The same idea applies to decision making.
Decision making is like a muscle. If you were going to start working out for the first time, you wouldn’t go to the gym and pick up the heaviest weights you could find… If you’re like me, you’d start with the 2-pound weights! Practice being decisive in little ways. Make little choices, and then the bigger decisions will start to seem easier!
Recognize the little decisions you already make and give yourself credit for it. Think about how many decisions you’ve already made today – you decided what to put in your coffee, you decided what to eat, you decided what to wear, you decided to listen to this podcast! Look at you! You’re a decision-making machine! Honor that and give yourself kudos for it!
Now keep it going – recognize all the times you make little decisions for the rest of today… and every day! Stay committed to making decisions – “Yes, I want vanilla creamer in my coffee!” “Yes, I want the chicken cashew salad!” “Yes, I want to watch Fixer Upper!” “No, I don’t want to look at this catalog that came in the mail.”
Practice, practice, practice, and celebrate every decision you make. Before you know it, you’ll be more decisive! It won’t take so much energy and time for you to make decisions. You’ll feel comfortable and confident in your choices – and who doesn’t want more of that?
Remember, don’t try to be perfect. Nothing hampers decision making like trying to make everything perfect – accept that not every decision is going to be flawless, and not every outcome is going to be perfect. Life is not perfect, humans are not perfect, so let go of that expectation, it will only slow you down. Try keeping things in perspective, and you’ll improve and learn with every decision you make.
You’re doing an amazing job! The fact that you carved out time in your day to listen to this podcast is a true testament that you’re striving to learn, grow and be the best version of yourself so you can help others. You are an incredible, one-of-a-kind person and I am so proud of you for making time to learn so you can lead even better.
Until next time!
If you have any questions – I’m right here for you! Ask away! Send me a message on Facebook or Instagram or send me an email and I’ll happily write you back with an answer!
Want something fun to do? Check out the brand new personality quiz, “What’s Your Secret Spice?” It will help you become more confident in yourself and as a leader in your organization with its personalized results. Click here to take the quiz now
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