We make decisions daily, so you’d think we’d all be experts at it. Yet sometimes, we waffle, delay or second guess ourselves. And instead of moving forward, we stay stuck. What makes decision-making, especially if it involves change, so hard sometimes?

Fear of the unknown

When a decision involves venturing into new territory, it’s natural to feel apprehensive and unsure. We might have no experience in what we are about to undertake. That can induce feelings that we are better off sticking to what we know. Why risk something new when there is comfort and safety in the familiar? The idea of possible failure or negative consequences is enough to keep many of us tucked up in routines, work, relationships, and habits that are no longer healthy or productive.

Complacency is precisely why deciding to try something new is so important.

Get over it (and yourself)

We live in an ego-driven society. The instinct for self-preservation has morphed from a primordial one to being more about presenting an image, a façade that will impress others and protect our place. We are constantly on guard, listening to other opinions, and strategizing our next move. Fear of what others think can hold us back from breaking away from situations we know aren’t working. Concern about revealing our vulnerabilities can keep us walled up and frozen by inertia.

Here’s a thought: What other people think of you is none of your business.

We all see the world through different lenses developed from our experiences, upbringing, education, dreams, and ambitions. We will never be able to control what others perceive about us as we don’t wear their glasses. You can control your actions but can’t control how others interpret those actions. No one spends their day thinking exclusively about you, so don’t overthink things.   

Spend your energy on deciding what you can do differently to shake things up in a positive way.

Flip the switch

First, identify what change you want to make. Is it to initiate a change in a working relationship with a client, for example? Before you ask for a meeting, set your goal. What do you want to happen? Have a clear idea of exactly what’s gone wrong and create a list of possible solutions. Run through the pros and cons of each – from your perspective and how you might view things if you were the client. The more you put yourself in their shoes, the more you’ll be prepared for whatever objections they might present. 

Then act. There is no value in continually griping about a situation to your confidantes but never taking action to improve it. Make the decision you want the relationship to change and follow through to make that happen. Deciding to address issues heading off track before they build up prevents resentment and gradual erosion of your effectiveness – to both that client and others.

Build on your successes

Once you make one change, it’s easier to make others. Be prepared that your decisions might not immediately work as you hope.  Sometimes it’s a process of baby steps, so don’t decide to overhaul your whole world all at once. Small changes, one after another, lead to confidence and success in the decision-making process.

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Theodore Roosevelt