There are a variety of reasons why we may struggle with making decisions. Read through the following list and consider if any factors apply to your own, recent decisions.
- Lacking information, including the knowledge of where to find it and how to evaluate it when it is acquired.
- Inadequate or inaccurate information. This could be, for example, using information that is out-of-date, or biased, or just wrong.
- Too much information available, causing us to become paralysed in our decision-making.
Lack of Decision-Making Experience and Knowledge Factors
- Lacking knowledge of decision-making procedures and skills; limited experience in decision-making.
- Lacking confidence in our decision-making abilities due to a lack of experience, or a belief that we are poor decision-makers, or believing that there will be too many consequences, thus not making a decision at all.
- Competing motives, leading to indecisiveness or avoiding making decisions (e.g. "I can't decide whether I will go on to a postgraduate course until I know whether I'm getting married").
- Value, interest, or ability conflicts, for example "I would like to be a teacher, but the money doesn't seem good enough to raise a family").
- Multi-potentiality - the plight of being gifted and having many interests and strong abilities in a number of areas. We may find decision-making harder, believing we will have to sacrifice important interests or abilities.
- Limited interests or abilities, providing limited options from which to choose, especially when none of them appear attractive to us.
- Conflicts with significant others can interfere with our decision-making (e.g. " I want to be a designer, but Dad wants me to be an accountant and I don't want to disappoint him").
- Paralysing anxiety when making decisions about important matters, because of our fear of making bad choices.
- Limited self-confidence or self-efficacy (e.g. "I can't / won't accomplish what I set out to do").
- The struggle for control when predicting the future is not possible. Thus we may be left wondering whether pursuing a certain course will get us to where we want to be in life.
- Decision-making put off or hampered because, even if we do decide, we don't know how to formulate a plan or how to carry out the decision.
We therefore need to keep building confidence in our own ability to make informed and well-reasoned decisions. It is important to remember that most decisions are not irreversible or life-damaging - it is the accumulation of decisions over time that make us who we are, not any single decision.