I screwed up.

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“Oh my God, I screwed up.”

That pretty much sums up the biggest fear that I have when it comes to making decisions. I am afraid I am going to get it wrong. This past week I was faced with two big decisions, and man, I can’t tell you how much energy I spent running around on the hamster wheel of indecision.

I have gotten much better at making choices (and accepting that it’s okay if I make the wrong decision,) but I still sometimes find this is a tough practice. My inner perfectionist rears its ugly head around decision time, and the bigger the decision the stronger those perfectionist behaviors call out to me. I want to make the “right decision” and anything less than getting it right, the first time around, isn’t good enough.

I can go to great lengths to avoid my fear of getting it wrong… I will stick with indecision for as long as possible to avoid making a bad call. I will accumulate as much data as possible, even to the point of analysis paralysis. I will poll others for their opinions, rather than listen to my gut. I will use the “advice” of others as a scapegoat for the possible wrong decision. Even though no one can force me to choose one direction or another, in my mind blaming others’ advice feels like it limits my responsibility. I will ignore situations and avoid circumstances, while at the same time obsessively worrying about what is the “right” choice. I will test out scenarios of option A and option B, consumed with doubt over each choice. Whew! That is a lot of energy to expend!

As I faced my decisions this week, I found it helpful to remember these 3 things:

1) Although it may feel like it, this is not life or death.

(Unless it is…and then that’s a different topic) If you make the wrong decision, that is all it is…a wrong decision. It doesn’t have to define you. I have a great example: Last month I was shopping for a pair of new glasses. I was really stressed the day I went to pick out frames and was struggling to make my final decision. I narrowed it down to my favorite two pairs. I then asked everyone in the store their opinion. After I chose my glasses I started to feel doubt, and a couple days later I realized I really wanted the other glasses. The glasses had already been ordered so I couldn’t switch to the other pair. I was a bit bummed about the glasses, but I was more upset that I had made the wrong decision. However, while I didn’t get the pair I really wanted, I still got my 2nd favorite pair and they are pretty darn cute. No one died. I made a decision I wasn’t ultimately happy with, and life was still okay.

2) It’s okay to change your mind.

If something is not working for you, you don’t have to keep doing it.

3) The pain is in the unknowing.

Living in a state of limbo is extremely uncomfortable, and it is often the source of anxious energy. (Um…Did you read my list of behaviors I have used to avoid making decisions?) Remaining in indecision doesn’t let you move forward, it keeps you stuck. There is a distinct lack of action in the unknowing. Once a decision is made you will often know of it was the right one or not and you can move forward from there.

In the end I made two decisions this past week. Did I get it wrong? Only time will tell, but I was brave and faced the fear of screwing it up.

How do you deal with big decisions? What helps you battle the fear of making the wrong choice? Leave you comments below to keep the conversation going!

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