By Nadine Araksi, Toronto-based Story Coach
Are you overthinking a decision due to self-doubt?
“I hate this. But maybe there’s something wrong with me.”
You can’t shake the feeling that you’re in the wrong job or that you’ve outgrown your current position. But when you consider applying for new jobs, you start to get cold feet.
It’s a good job, you tell yourself. People would kill for this job. Maybe it was a dream job when you started, but now every day starts with this pit feeling in your stomach.
“Do I need to get out of the job? Maybe I just need to think about it differently. Maybe I’m the problem, and if I could stop being so grumpy about it, I’d realize that I’m meant to stay exactly where I am.”
We see clients in the program who are experiencing this back-and-forth in terms of decision-making. And a few where you might replace “job” with relationships. (“Am I bored of my partner, or just bored?” “Maybe dating just isn’t for me, and I’m just meant to be single forever.”)
People in this type of situation might try to recommit to their current path repeatedly until they evaluate the thinking keeping them where they are in terms of how they feel and the results they are getting.
Are you overthinking? You might be afraid you’ll make a “wrong” decision
If you’re feeling stuck and unable to make a decision, you’re not alone. It’s common to struggle with this back-and-forth, especially when it comes to big decisions like changing jobs or ending a relationship. You might be afraid of making the wrong choice and not sure how to move forward.
We’ve all been there. Faced with a tough decision, we analyze, compare, and weigh our options endlessly, trying to make the “perfect” choice. We consult experts, gather data, and seek advice from friends and family. Yet, the more we think, the harder it becomes to decide, and the more uncertain and anxious we feel. Overthinking a decision is a common problem that affects many people, but it doesn’t have to paralyze you.
5 steps to move past overthinking a decision and get into action
Here are some practical tips and strategies to help you quiet your mind, tune into your intuition, and trust your gut.
1. Visualize the outcome
A critical step to gaining clarity in decision-making is to visualize your desired outcome. Imagine yourself in the future, having made the decision. How do you feel? What has changed? What benefits have you gained? What challenges have you faced? By visualizing the outcome, you can get a sense of what’s important to you and what you want to avoid. Focus more on what you want than what you’re trying to avoid, and stay open to curiosity when doing this exercise. What comes up? Where do you feel resistance?
2. Define your values and priorities
When making a decision, get clear on your values and priorities. What matters most to you? What are your goals, needs, and preferences? By understanding your values and priorities, you can filter out options that don’t align with them and focus on the ones that do. This can simplify your decision-making process and reduce your anxiety.
3. Limit your options
If you are avoiding overthinking, it’s a good idea to limit your options. Too many choices can overwhelm your brain and make it harder to decide. Try to narrow down your options to a manageable number, ideally 2-3. This can make it easier to compare and contrast them and choose the best one for you. Remember, you can’t take two trips at once. Again, focus more on what you want than what you want to escape. Decide and commit to your chosen destination or result, and reduce your options from there.
4. Listen to your body
The fourth step to trusting your gut is to listen to your body. Your body has wisdom and programmed intelligence that your emotional mind may not give you access to. Pay attention to your physical sensations, such as butterflies in your stomach, tightness in your chest, or a feeling of ease or relief. These can be clues to what your intuition is telling you.
5. Set a deadline
The final step to making a decision is to set a deadline. Procrastination can fuel overthinking and make it harder to decide. By setting a deadline, you create a sense of urgency and accountability that can motivate you to take action. Of course, the deadline should be realistic and flexible, but it should also be firm enough to push you out of your comfort zone. (Need support? Read about coaching for overthinking here.)
You get to decide: What if there were no “wrong” decisions?
We may be wired for Fight, Flight, or Freeze responses, but the good news is we can rewire ourselves! It may be helpful to know that craving safety means we often stick with uncomfortable situations we’ve outgrown, rationalizing our reasoning and turning on ourselves as the root of the problem to make it palatable.
But what if we told you that there are no “wrong” decisions? At Kickstartology Coaching, we believe that every decision is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves. With our guidance through weekly live coaching, you’ll learn how to approach decision-making with curiosity instead of self-judgement.
Instead of worrying about making the “right” choice, we’ll teach you how to view every decision as a data point. What do you enjoy? What makes you uncomfortable? What lights you up? By exploring these questions and experimenting with different choices, you’ll gain insight into yourself and what you truly want.
Our Alignment Coaching program is a six-month online group coaching program for women designed to help you build the skills you need to navigate decision-making with confidence and less mind drama. You’ll learn how to adopt a curious mindset toward any thought, feeling, or event life throws at you, and start to be less hard on yourself.
Whether you’re considering a job change or wondering if it’s time to end a relationship, we’re here to support you. Join us and learn to embrace the decision-making process with self-confidence and ease.