Making decisions can be hard. The best choice is not always clear. So we delay. Or pause. Or consider. Or reconsider. Or procrastinate. In so many areas of our lives. So often. Does this sound familiar? Is it a problem? What has it got to do with wellness?

Uncertainty is the enemy

When it comes to stress and the many related forms of mental DIS-stress, one thing is clear: uncertainty is a major problem and often the root cause. It’s the NOT knowing that disturbs and worries us so much and so often. It’s the “what-if” thinking that keeps us awake at night. Even when it’s bad news, simply knowing and having certainty is often a strange but quite-real relief. And when the fears turn out to be unfounded (so very often the case), well, the stress simply melts away. Since we cannot tell the future, life will always have some uncertainty and to that extent we need to learn to cope with it. But quite often, surprisingly often, the simple act of making a decision, of selecting an option, of choosing, can create more certainty and less “what-if”. Becoming a more decisive person is a great way to cope with stress, and life, better.

Choices are two-way things

Now here is an interesting little idea. Making a choice is not only a positive thing. It’s almost always a negative too. We choose one option and in so doing, we reject others. If we choose to watch TV we reject other options like family-time, exercise, work, reading, or sleep. If we choose to buy a new car we reject other options like accelerated bond repayments, holiday-budget, investments, etc. If we choose to eat low-fat chicken salad we have probably rejected the tempting burgers, pizzas and deep-fried alternatives. So making decisions is as much about rejecting options as it is about choosing them. The trick here is to understand, truly understand, that making a choice will mean saying no as well as saying yes. Think about it…

We are today what we chose yesterday

There are things in life we cannot control. Genetics, fortune & luck, accidents of timing and that sort of stuff. But a great deal of who and what we are is a result of choices we made in the past. Our waistlines, bank balances, bedtime company, family relationships, addresses, cars, are all examples of things we chose. Actively. Perhaps we were influenced by external pressures of one sort or another but at the end of the day these were OUR choices. That makes them our responsibility. We are what we are because of ourselves and more specifically, because of our choices. Perhaps not 100%, and here you might choose a percentage you think is “fair” but it’s almost certainly a big number if you’re honest. The thing to consider is what sort of you you’d like to see tomorrow…or next month…or next year…or…

The bottom line

Becoming an active and positive decision-maker who takes and accepts responsibility for yourself is a great way to cope with life, to survive and to thrive.

TRY THIS: make a list of no-more than 5 decisions you’d like to make or need to make. Then commit to actually making these decisions within a week. You may well find the process liberating.