Do you have trouble making decisions?
That makes two of us.
If so, you may not actually be indecisive, you might just be a thoughtful person who likes to think over their options before acting.
Here’s how to tell the difference between self-crippling indecisiveness and prudent thoughtfulness.
1) You don’t fall for trends
Trends change like the weather, but the truth is the majority of people end up going along with them.
One of the top signs you’re not indecisive, you’re just thoughtful is that you don’t fall for trends.
You think about what you really like and enjoy, rather than just cheering along with whatever other people are on about.
When you decide to buy a certain style of clothes or eat certain foods or watch certain films, you think it over first about whether you actually like the things people are recommending you or which are popular.
This isn’t to say you’re always contrarian or obscure.
You may like music or fashion that’s trending, but you are genuinely into it, not just copying or trying to be popular.
This ties directly into the next of the signs that you’re just thoughtful about what you choose, not overly indecisive…
2) You aren’t overly influenced by the strong opinions of others on what you should choose
When there’s a lot of pressure to choose something, it doesn’t sway you.
You judge your choices against your core values and decide carefully.
You can and do make firm decisions and stick to them, you just don’t do so rapidly, nor do you do so because friends, family or anyone else tells you to.
If you have to decide something, you decide it.
You may ask advice or for more information, but you never outsource responsibility for your choices to others…
And you don’t let the strong perspectives of others sway what you ultimately decide.
3) You carefully weigh pros and cons before firmly deciding on anything
The next of the signs you’re not indecisive, you’re just thoughtful is that you carefully weigh pros and cons.
This may come up in many situations, but if there’s an important decision, you think it through and don’t just act on impulse.
- Whether or not to take a job
- Whether to get serious in a relationship
- What to do about a health problem or challenge
- Where to travel next on vacation
- What type and year of vehicle to buy or lease
- Whether to trust a new business partner or not
You take your time in making decisions and turning off your defenses.
It’s not that you can’t make decisions or always walk them back:
It’s just that you weigh pros and cons and you take your time to do it thoroughly.
4) You do a worst-case vs. best-case scenario of every major decision you need to make
Another of the helpful things that thoughtful people do in decision-making is to lay out a worst and best-case scenario.
This gives them a range of likely possibilities to possibly expect as the outcome of any given choice.
Of course there is always the chance that even our expectations or fears will be exceeded.
But the thoughtful decision-maker tries to anticipate what could happen at best or worst from making a decision.
- If you marry someone the best-case scenario is you’ll live a fulfilled life together and navigate the ups and downs with grace and love, while the worst case is you will get your heart broken or vice versa, be financially ruined and lose many of your savings.
- If you take a job, the best-case scenario is that you earn a handsome salary, get promoted, receive recognition and love your work; the worst-case scenario is that you hate your job, get fired, end up being demoted and fired or run into some kind of legal trouble or professional disrepute as a result of your job.
5) You avoid many common traps that others fall into
The next of the signs you’re not indecisive, you’re just thoughtful is that you avoid many common traps that others fall into.
You don’t always go for the hottest new fad in investing or dating or what kind of home to live in or career sectors that are growing.
Because you know many fads and trends end up going bust.
You aren’t avoiding decisions, you’re avoiding mistakes.
- You don’t try new diets that seem too good to be true, you wait to see them pass the test of time
- You don’t line up to get experimental vaccines before being exactly sure of the long-term effects
- You don’t buy an expensive car to feel great about yourself only to realize it was a terrible investment
And so on and so forth…
You’re not necessarily bad at making decisions, you’re just avoidant of decisions that aren’t grounded in logic or which lack sufficient justification.
6) You make decisions that are aligned with your larger goals
The next of the signs you’re not indecisive, you’re just thoughtful is that you take time and care in decision-making because you want to ensure your decisions actually line up with your larger goals.
If you want to be a professional tennis player and you have three options of where to move, you don’t just choose the richest, nicest place.
You choose the one with the best tennis school and the trainer you want to work with.
If you want to meet a man who belongs to the Latter-Day Saints church like you do, then you start avoiding friends who are pulling away from the church and choose to spend more times with those who are getting closer.
Your decisions may be difficult or even controversial, but they aren’t random.
They’re based on your core values and what you want to achieve.
7) You don’t second-guess yourself once you make a decision, because you’re careful in making the choice to start with
The next of the key signs you’re not indecisive, you’re just thoughtful is that you are careful in making decisions so that you won’t double back on them.
I’ve met many very decisive people who end up regretting their decisions.
They move somewhere, marry someone or take a job based on a quick and sure choice.
Then they realize it wasn’t right for them, was a waste of time or is leading them away from their goals and core values.
It’s sad to see, but that’s one of the biggest arguments in favor of fully thinking over choices before making them.
You take your time, you weigh the pros and cons, you ensure your values and goals are included:
Then, and only then, do you decide.
You’re not overthinking or waffling, you’re just doing your best to ensure you won’t make a choice that drags you backwards.
8) However, you do reflect on decisions you make in order to improve your choices next time
While you don’t second-guess your choices, you do reflect on them.
Even the most decisive person in the world thinks about “what if.”
That’s just life.
But this does have a useful function apart from a pure thought exercise or sentimental nostalgia.
It allows you to look at the choice architecture, goals and values that shaped your decision and think about what you will do differently for your next decision.
Alternately, it allows you to see how certain things you didn’t expect or see coming are actually impossible to avoid.
In the second case this is about appreciating the element of the unknown in every decision we make and respecting and making our peace with it.
9) You help friends and those you love make decisions and they appreciate your rationality and thoughtfulness
The next of the signs you’re not indecisive, you’re just thoughtful is that people come to you for advice on decisions.
In other words, you are known for making choices that are sound and deliberative.
People close to you respect your ability and judgment in weighing options and making decisions that are actually smart and well-founded.
This in itself shows that you don’t have an indecisiveness issue, you just like to think it over first.
And others appreciate and value that.
10) You think about the road not traveled, but you don’t fixate or obsess about it
We all think about “what if,” as I wrote.
The poet Robert Frost called it “the road not traveled.”
Sure, you think about it.
But you’re not obsessed.
And when a decision comes your way, you take your time because you want to weigh your options, not because you completely refuse to decide.
At times I have tried to avoid choosing anything myself.
That in itself is a choice.
And so, sooner or later, we all make a decision.
But one of the key signs you’re not indecisive, you’re just thoughtful is that the road less traveled is curious and intriguing to you, but not full of regret or bitterness.
Making the ‘right’ decisions
What divides a right decision from a wrong decision?
Is it a spiritual or religiously-based moral code?
Is it your own conscience?
Is it whatever brings you the greatest gain, joy or pleasure in the short-term or long-term?
Making the right decisions depends on what your goals are.
If you know what you’re aiming for then you will find that your thoughtfulness in decision-making is useful and leads to productive and powerful choices that lead you on your path.