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How to be more decisive at work

How To Be More Decisive At Work

Indecisiveness can be paralyzing. Sometimes it can feel as though there are a million decisions that need to be made constantly when you’re at work. When we feel overwhelmed, we can tend to shut down, freeze up, and stop making the decisions that need to be made. When we stop making decisions, everything piles up all over again, and we find ourselves trapped in a never ending cycle or fear and overwhelm. 

There’s a few reasons people lean toward indecision — it’s not just about fear of making a bad choice. It can be due to not feeling confident in being able to make the right decision, feeling as though there might be a better option just around the corner, or that you truly can’t decide because all the ideas seem like good ones. It’s important to remember, though, that not making a decision is making a decision — you’re deciding to do nothing, which won’t move you forward and can cause backups at work that seriously impact your productivity. 

If you’re ready to start learning how to make quick decisions without wavering, take a look at my tips on how to be more decisive at work (and don’t worry — these work for any aspect of your life, too!)

  • Learn to say NO

Setting boundaries is important, we all realize that. But we don’t realize that saying “no” is sometimes the best way to do it. 

Saying “no” can feel negative and counterproductive, especially to decisiveness, but in actuality it helps us clear our plates and our minds enough to get more clarity. Saying “no” lets you value your time and energy, and put it into more important things (such as decision making!) Just think about it — if you’re spending time on little things that don’t really need your attention, you’re taking time away from focusing on making necessary decisions. 

Saying “no” might not come easily to you, but that’s okay. It’s something to practice, implement when you can, and figure out how to get comfortable doing it. It’s never too late to get used to something you’ve always been afraid to do — or say. 

  • Don’t overanalyze

You may not even realize you’re doing it, but overthinking and overanalyzing situations comes second nature to us, especially in times of stress (uh, hello COVID!)

A study from the University of Michigan found that 73% of millennials tend to overthink — so I promise you, you’re not alone. You may think, but it makes sense to think hard about my decisions, and analyze every potential. Here’s the thing: you might think you’re weighing your options, but you’re really just delaying the inevitable and causing undue stress. Another study by the University of Santa Barbara found that overthinking has a negative impact on memory, and decreases judgement and performance. 

And overthinking doesn’t just foster indecision. It can cause sleeplessness, headaches, pain in your muscles, and can potentially even shorten your life

So the next time you’re inclined to spend four hours considering every angle of every corner of a decision, try to take a deep breath, and trust your instincts. Your brain will thank you for it.

  • You are not perfect – don’t try to be

We all have an instinct to be perfect, especially when it comes to work. No one wants to pitch an unfinished project, or lead a meeting stumbling over their words, or come to a client without all the facts. When it comes to making decisions, it can be impossible to break away from the desire to make it a perfect decision. 

I’m going to tell you to trust your gut instincts. It might sound hokey, but I promise it’s actually the best thing you can do. In fact, studies found that our gut can act like our “second brain,” helping us evaluate our surroundings and make decisions. Yes, our emotions can actually make us more effective and decisive

  • Face your fears

More often than not, fear is what’s stopping us from making quick decisions. Maybe you’re anxious about the drawbacks of your decision, so you spend more time overthinking (or even avoiding) the situation rather than make up your mind. And once you’ve finally decided, you proceed to go through a laundry list of “what-ifs” that make you second guess the choice you just made. Fear and anxiety about decision making is exhausting, and it’s not helping you. 

Fear can be healthy. It can keep us safe, and on our toes, and aware. But when it comes to being decisive at work, it’s a major hindrance. It only lets you see the negatives of your decisions, and not the positives, and can lead to overthinking (which we now know is no good!). 

If fear has been holding you back and preventing you from making quick, smart decisions, it’s time to take a step back and just breathe. The world isn’t going to fall apart if you choose wrong. And chances are, if you are trusting your gut and leading with confidence, you won’t! 

Think about your decisiveness this way — you chose to click on this article, and if you’ve gotten this far, you’ve chosen to learn more about how to be more decisive at work. Yes, that was a decision you made, and it was a good one! You’re one step closer to learning how to control your fear, take charge of your time, and let go of the need for perfection. Think about how good it will feel the next time you sit down with a choice in your hands, and you can just decide. Just like that. Trust me, you can do it, and you’ll be happier for it.

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