• Akhila Balasubramaniam

Paralysed by indecisiveness?

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros

Indecisiveness starts small and bleeds into other areas in life.

What to wear today, what to cook, whether to meet friends tonight or chill at home, which degree to pursue, what job to seek, to get into this relationship or not.

Why does this problem exist?

With the privilege of several available options and the agency to make our choices, comes decision paralysis. We want to choose the most rewarding option, but we're afraid of missing out on the other if we choose one.

If I half-heartedly choose to hang out with your friends, I'd be cursing myself for not staying back home.

When we're consumed by FOMO(fear of missing out), we'd never be able to wholeheartedly appreciate anything.

How to overcome this?

Don’t spend cognitive energy to make trivial decisions. Form habits and rituals to operate on autopilot for what to wear, cook, or when to wake up.

Concentrate on the crucial decisions which need intention. The decisions related to your career, relationships, goals.

Is making a list of pros and cons, helpful?

Yes, and no.

Start from your "why". A pro-con list is futile when you don’t know your "why". Each of us has our own set of life-values, and we stack it in the order of priority, that feels true to us.

For someone, it could be Family>Friends>Money>Passion. Wherein, to another, it could be an entirely different order. Be aware of yours.

We have different value-stacks within each of the spheres in our life, like family, relationship, career, study, side-hustle.

For instance, if you are conflicted between pursuing higher studies within the country or going abroad, refer to your value stack within that sphere. If the experience of living abroad is on top of your stack, you'll feel satisfied with studying abroad. On the other hand, if living close to family is on top, then studying within the country will be more rewarding.

You can make a pro-con list to aid decision making, but it's your value-stack that determines the importance of each attribute on the list. Not the number of pros and cons. It's immaterial if your most essential value is missing and there are 10 pros that you don’t care much for.

This order defines why you make the choices you make. It's individual and no one else can hand you down their value-stack, you need to introspect and create your own. When we aren't aware of our value-stack, we easily get swayed by others' opinions. Be it a friend, family member or the media.

Be intentional and have a vivid image of what’s important to you.

  • Write it down on a sticky note

  • Make this list your wallpaper

  • Make it part of your vision board.

  • Update it as you evolve.

Let this subconscious messaging be louder than the subconscious messaging of media and society. Becoming intentional and decisive is not like flipping a switch. It takes time and repetition.

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