- Someday Lesson: Regret and insecurity come from the lack of a clear desire for the future.
Perhaps it’s because you don’t have a passionate vision of the future. If your future is murky or you’re not sure the future you have in mind is the right one for you, every decision you make will cause you anguish. You have nothing against which to measure progress and you have no idea if your decisions are correct or not.
Indecisiveness leads you to regret every decision you make. The regret then leads to insecurity. Because you can’t trust your inner voice, you start looking for outside approval. You let the opinions of others sway you until you don’t know what’s going on inside your head and your heart.
You worry that you’re going to spend your whole life as wishy-washy as Charlie Brown and will lie on your deathbed feeling nothing but regret.
But you don’t have to live that way. You can to make strong decisions. You can be secure and confident. You can pursue the crap out of your dreams.
But how? The cycle of indecisiveness, regret and insecurity is a hard one to break. Here are seven ways to get started on being a decisive, confident Someday-buster.
1. Start small
Just as you wouldn’t try running marathon after years of little physical activity, you’re not going to tackle big life-changing decisions right away. Start small with decisions like what type of cheese on your sandwich, or what shirt you’ll wear for the day.
2. Let yourself be wrong
Fear of being wrong often causes people to mistrust their decisions. When I worked as a computer-lab support person, whenever I dealt with people who were terrified of breaking the computer, I’d grab their hands and smash them around on the keyboard and they’d learn that it’s actually difficult to make a permanent mistake. Very few decisions are life or death. You are allowed to be wrong on occasion.
3. Lose the judgment and guilt
Guilt and self-judgment have a huge affect on your ability to make a concrete decision. When you make a decision that takes you away from your dreams instead of moving you towards them, think of it as taking the scenic route and not as a wrong turn. Recognize the problem, change direction and get back on track. Judgment and guilt are just forms of self-punishment and who would ever punish themselves for taking the scenic route on a road trip?
4. Stop regret before it starts
Just as heavy truck traffic will create ruts in a road, thoughts find a groove and tend to stay there. If you have second-guessed a few decisions, it’s easier to second-guess the next one and the next until momentum has you sailing along in a well-worn track. Break out of the groove by breaking the thought patterns. Each time you feel yourself second-guessing a decision or you feel regret rising, start singing something like Old MacDonald, 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, or (my favourite) Eurythmic’s Sweet Dreams. I guarantee you’ll forget about the regret.
5. Talk to fewer people
Often insecure people seek advice from as many people as possible, hoping that the democratic process will send them in the right direction. However, usually the insecure people just end up with fifty different options to choose from and feel guilty for disappointing those whose advice they don’t take. Instead of talking to lots of people, rely more on yourself and if you feel you must get feedback from others, choose only one or two people who are knowledgeable on the subject in question.
6. Find ways to measure progress
Self-improvement goals are hard to measure. “I feel 10% more confident today” just doesn’t make any sense. However, saying “I made twenty decisions today and second-guessed three of them” makes a whole lot of sense. Counting always works as a measurement, so if you can find a way to count your progress and don’t get discouraged by the starting point – think instead about how high you can go!
7. Be patient and gentle with yourself
Change doesn’t happen all at once. Habits don’t alter overnight. You’re not going to become the most decisive most confident person ever right away. Don’t let your insecurity undermine your progress, but also don’t let the occasional backslide stop you from continuing. Two steps forward and one step back still has the net effect of one step forward.
So, how do you handle your regrets and moments of indecisiveness?