7 Ways to Make Regret-Free Decisions and Overcome Insecurity

  • Someday Lesson: Regret and insecurity come from the lack of a clear desire for the future.

Do you ever waver over decisions and or feel insecure about your actions?

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?

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16 thoughts on “7 Ways to Make Regret-Free Decisions and Overcome Insecurity

  1. Indecision is my biggest weakness. Thanks for the tips – I will be keeping this for a while!

    Janet Barclay´s last blog post..Facebook Revisited

  2. Andy Hayes says:

    I’m the worst on number 5. I love to get loads and loads of opinions so I don’t feel so bad if it doesn’t work out.

    Andy Hayes´s last blog post..The Ryanair Experience

  3. Karen Swim says:

    Alex, this is awesome advice! I love the solution you used with technophobes. The thing we have to begin to realize is that life offers no guarantees, we can never be 100% assured that even a good decision will have a good outcome. Once we get over the need to attain “perfection” we become free to live a regret free life. Number 5 is my personal pet peeve. I have had clients like that and now avoid them like the plague. It is very difficult for me to work with people who live their life by committee and need constant input from various sources to make a decision.

    Karen Swim´s last blog post..Dubious Deception and other Corporate Tales

  4. I love these tips. I think are so useful and I can’t wait to get to work using them in my own life. Thanks! 🙂

    Positively Present´s last blog post..don’t settle for anything less than butterflies

  5. J.D. Meier says:

    I think you hit the key … it’s about a compelling vision.

    J.D. Meier´s last blog post..Living Your Process

  6. Sven Schöne says:

    Very, very nice article Alex! 🙂

    I think a big problem is the “marathon”-thingy. This is actually one of the main problems of humanity. Human beings are NOT made for such long-term thinking. Do you think that we would really use the resources of the earth the way we do now if we would look far ahead into the future?

    We all seek instant gratification: The faster the results the better. This only makes sense when your life-span is limited.

    This also explains the extreme sense of efficiency that our modern society has developed. Everything has to be done much faster in much better ways. Mediocrity is not acceptable. Perfectionists are the new leaders of successful businesses. (I am a perfectionist myself, more or less).

    Now, here is the secret question: What would happen if we all would live forever? We had all the time in the world, no pressure. I could not predict the outcome of such a world if my life depended on it… (that sounded weird 😀 )

    Sven Schöne´s last blog post..How to get icy: cydia alternative

  7. […] 7 Ways to Make Regret-Free Decisions and Overcome Insecurity – Someday Syndrome Do you ever waver over decisions and or feel insecure about your actions? 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. […]

  8. steph says:

    Oh Alex. You wrote this post just for me, didn’t you? 🙂

    It certainly feels like it. It’s all true.

    Thanks. I’ll read it more than once.

    steph´s last blog post..Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease

  9. Lynn says:

    I make tons of plans every evening – I am going to do this or that – then 24 hours latter I haven’t. Fear, resistance, depression, SAD syndrome, the pain body, worrying – on and on – I know what I need to do to change my life – well I think I do – but I have tried so many things and failed – but then again I have successes too. I seem to be in inertia. It helps to know I am not alone!

  10. Alex Fayle says:

    @Janet
    Always happy to help!

    @Andy
    I think politicians use the same tactic – lots of public input so that there’s no blame when things don’t work out. 😉

    @Karen
    The perfection part is personal challenge. I’m fine being imperfect in many ways but when it comes to anything writing-related, I *have* to get it just right.

    @Positively Present
    Yay to helping! Let me know how it goes…

    @JD
    Yes, if we don’t know what we want, how can we make any decisions? We can’t – we just end up wandering aimlessly.

    @Sven
    My sister had a post about that very idea over on the Urban Panther’s Lair – about how we would change our actions if we were capable of really long-term thinking.

    @Steph
    While it wasn’t directly for you, I hoped you would find something useful from it. 😉

    @Lynn
    I tend to over commit to what I want to do and then do nothing myself. How about choosing just three things to get done each day? Anything else would be gravy.

  11. I’m so far behind in my blog reading I was tempted to skip everything that I missed and start at today’s stuff and move forward.

    I’M SO GLAD I TOOK THE TIME TO GO BACK AND READ THIS POST.

    Awesome advice Alex.

  12. Alex Fayle says:

    @Jacki
    Glad you came back to the post too. I know what you mean about skipping back posts. I always feel like I’ve missed something out when I do that.

  13. […] Seth hit upon something I’ve been cultivating my whole life, and I hope you will, too. The ability to stick with it. Coast if you must, gain a little strength, resolve never to count a chicken again, or not to get too bummed out if you do; give yourself a mental pep talk, or read work by someone who’s always got a ready laugh, relaxed wisdom, or a quiet inspiration. […]

  14. […] wrote about this as being a way to overcome insecurity Fear of being wrong often causes people to mistrust their decisions. When I worked as a […]

  15. […] Fayle in “7 Ways to Make Regret-Free Decisions and Overcome Insecurity” [be sure to click thru for 4 more ways to start changing your life […]

  16. Christine says:

    Dear Alex,

    I commend and agree with your 7 Ways to Make Regret-Free Decisions and Overcome Insecurity. Some of your rules make me felt like someone understand how I feel. Also, I realize that I am not alone with such insecurities challenges and I will apply them to my relationship.

    Thank you so much

    Christine
    Guyana, South America

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