Here’s the thing about putting off your important decision…
Not deciding is a decision.
As long as you realize that, and you’re okay with that, then I guess you’re okay. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re making a wiser decision by repeatedly kicking the can a little farther down the road.
It’s kind of like what I tell people about relationships. “Your relationship is like a plant. It’s always either growing or dying. It’s never just staying the same.”
If you have dreams to chase, a better life to pursue, or things you need to make right, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’ll do it “someday.” Or else you’ll end up like the people interviewed by Bronnie Ware, a palliative nurse who spoke with dying patients about their top regrets.
Want to know the number one regret of the dying that kept coming up over and over again?
Here it is:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
There are times when strategic delay can be the best decision. But only when you’ve carefully analyzed all your options and decided to consciously use strategic delay for a set period of time (or until a trigger point is reached).
What you don’t want is avoidance, procrastination, or denial. Or you may find time slipping away. You’ll look back and wonder why you never led the life you had intended.
As a psychologist, I have walked with many people through the ups and downs of their lives. It’s like living a hundred lives…and watching how the different choices unfold.
Watching those choices, there’s one thing I’ve learned to be true. No one regrets living a life in full pursuit of the things they believe in.
Even if times get tough. Even when things don’t turn out exactly the way you intended. There are no regrets. Because your energy flows from a deeper source of meaning and purpose. You wait patiently for life to yield.
And it will yield to those who take bold action. Because here’s the thing…
Making a firm decision changes you.
It unlocks feelings of strength and confidence. Yes, it requires some courage too, but you’ll find you have more courage available to you once you’ve chosen a direction for your life.
Don’t get me wrong, I rarely meet anyone who knows exactly what they’re going to do for the rest of their life. We don’t get a map of the future. All we get is the opportunity to make the decisions that are right for this moment in time. The good news is, that’s all you need.
If you continue to make the decisions that feel right for this chapter of your life (instead of putting them off until you have some sort of perfect plan) something interesting happens.
It’s as if life begins to conspire with you as you finally start to take action.
So here’s what I recommend.
Very often, the answer to this third question is, “No. I’ll never have the information I need, and no, I can’t do anything to get it.”
You see, this is a crucial step that holds many people back from making a decision. Accepting the unknowns is actually a step in the right direction.
You have to narrow down what you know and what you don’t know. You’ve got to come to grips with uncertainties. You’ve got to accept these unknowns for what they are. This empowers you to stop waiting and start planning.
Sometimes, planning for the unknowns will give you the boost of confidence you need to commit to a certain direction. It’s one of the most common ways I find myself helping people as a decision coach—facing the unknowns and making contingency plans for each possible outcome.
Are you ready to face the unknowns? Are you ready to take back control?
Remember, your life never stays the same. So you might as well direct it. You might as well be proactive and take control.
Dr. Todd Snyder
Psychologist | Productivity Coach | Decision Consultant