Why can't i make up my mind

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

What should I settle on?

One of the great blessings of the human being is the ability to choose what is best for them. But what if this in itself becomes a burden?

You meet two roommates and you can’t pick who to stay with.
You see different kinds of phones and you don’t know which one to buy.
Picking your career? Definitely gets confusing.

If you look at life, you will realize there are many decisions you need to make every day. If you wish to truly improve your ability to become a decision maker and not feel lost in the middle, you must learn the real reasons to why indecisiveness happens.

How to make your mind?

While it’s very important to look at the advantages of the different option, comparing between the disadvantages is what makes you take a good decision.

It’s about one with a disadvantage that you can bear in comparison to the others. Let’s take a look at the Nobel prize winning research on risky decision making by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.

They brought a large sample of people to test their tendencies to picking the best option in a fictional situation.

"Imagine your country is preparing for the outbreak of a disease expected to kill 600 people. If program A is adopted, exactly 200 people will be saved. If program B is adopted there is a 1/3 probability that 600 people will be saved and a 2/3 probability that no people will be saved."

They wrote the options in terms of gains - looking at how many people the participants would save. This resulted with 72% of them choosing option A, which is in fact worse. Now let’s have a look at how giving the exact same options but framing them in terms of losses resulted in.

"Imagine your country is preparing for the outbreak of a disease expected to kill 600 people. If program A is adopted, exactly 400 people will die. If program B is adopted there is a 1/3 probability that no one will die and a 2/3 probability that 600 people will die."

Now what did people choose? 78% chose option B, people suddenly preferred to take the risk. Anytime you are stuck between options, have a look at the alternative scenarios and see which is most bearable to you.

Fear, acceptance and decision making

Most people think that the reason for their indecisiveness is their fear of the bad decision. While this is certainly one of the reasons there is actually a more powerful reason that could be causing this problem. If you take a closer look into the root cause of indecisiveness, the lack of acceptance to what will happen might to be the real reason.

The tendency of not accepting what happens in life in general is the reason for many of the weaknesses in people’s personalities. Acceptance doesn’t mean to like the current situation you’re in no matter how much you seem to hate it; acceptance actually means accepting it now because you are creating a better plan to achieve what you want.

So the next time it turns out that you made a bad decision after you’ve put some thought into it or the next time something in general goes wrong in your life, decide to learn from it and make a plan to the better. It is your ability to learn from wrong decisions and accepting them by making better plans are what count as the key to becoming a decisive person. (see also why do some people never learn from their mistakes)

Long term vs. short term rewards

In order to make a good decision, after you’ve made your pick, the right thing to do is to make a plan on how to best deal with the losses in case they occur and how to reduce as much as you can from them. This way you are quite comfortable with your pick and can accept it better if it doesn’t go as planned.

But what if it’s more about what we want now rather than wait for later?
Our desire for quick gains rather than what is right but prolonged is the main cause for bad decisions. Human beings in general lack patience and tend to go for what is quick and fun rather than what is right and sustainable.

The next time you catch yourself making a quick decision because you want something now that will cause big losses you must stop yourself. This goes hand in hand with the point above about weighing the disadvantages well before making a decision.

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Want to know more?

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