What to do when you can’t decide

three faces of indecision

Stuck moment: Wait a minute. Before I commit, I want to be really, truly sure that this is the way to go. Maybe I didn’t fully think it through. And maybe the first plan wasn’t so bad after all. Let me check just to make sure.

* * *

The fact is, we’re expert deciders. We do it everyday, all day — summoning habits and instincts built over a lifetime to make choices both major (should I get married?) and minor (what to wear this morning?). But we get stuck as Wafflers when we overthink our options. Instead of relying on our gut, we endlessly process the pros and cons into muddy indecision.

There are at least three different faces of indecision. Knowing which one you’re prone to will help you find the best way to stop spinning. Take our mini-quiz to find out.

Waffler mini-quiz
First, think of a time when you had trouble making a decision. Then quickly answer the following three questions, the quicker the better:

How did you Feel when you were indecisive?
A. Determined
B. Scattered
C. Concerned about others

What did you Think when you were indecisive?
A. I need to get this right.
B. I don’t want to pass anything up.
C. I don’t want anyone to be mad.

What did you Do when you were indecisive?
A. Kept mulling over all angles.
B. Looked for a way to keep my options open.
C. Tried to address everyone’s concerns.

If you chose mostly A answers, read about Account-for-Everything Wafflers, below. Mostly B’s, you’re likely an All-of-the-Above Waffler. C’s are Accommodating Wafflers. If you had a mix of letters, you’re a hybrid, which means you’ll find parts of yourself in all three types.

After you get a handle on how you waffle, go to our Option Optimizer worksheet to tap into your gut instinct, and get an exercise designed specifically for your Waffler tendency.

Account-for-Everything Waffler
You’re great at seeing the in’s and out’s, and folks rely on you to help suss out all the angles. That’s you in your element: planning for every contingency. What you dread most is overlooking something, so you redouble your efforts to pore over every detail. That puts you at a standstill because there’s always one more thing to consider.

You need to believe in your ability to adapt. A decision is rarely irreparable.To stop spinning, trust that you’ll be able to fine-tune things down the line as stuff you couldn’t foresee becomes visible.

Stop waffling by stopping when you hit a deadline.  Get the exercise.

All-of-the-Above Waffler
Your enthusiasm is contagious. When someone needs encouragement in a new adventure, they can count on you. After all, life is short and has so much to offer — why not just say yes? What scares you is the idea of regretting the roads not taken. That’s why deciding is so hard — you don’t want to eliminate any options.

You need to believe in the power of putting both feet in. When you commit to something and see it through, it actually opens up more possibilities. Instead of trying to do everything all at once, use your gut to filter through the choices.

Stop waffling by prioritizing what’s most important. Get the exercise.

Accommodating Waffler
Empathy for others is your strong suit. Your openness and flexibility create trust and closeness within your relationships — and that’s important to you. So when it’s time to decide, you strive for the magic formula that will satisfy everyone’s concerns. But your fear of letting others down makes it hard for the right solution to materialize.

You need to see the goal as your guidepost. It’s admirable to listen to people’s interests, but letting them distract you from the purpose at hand waters down decisions. Focus on keeping the objective front and center.

Stop waffling by keeping your eye on the goal. Get the exercise.

DOWNLOAD THIS PRINTABLE WORKSHEET: Option Optimizers: How to stop waffling over a decision

More Unstuck Advice

Instant Insight: Stay true It's the easiest thing in the world to get swept away by the allure of a new fashion, new scene, or new crowd. It's also just as easy to feel the need...
How to protect your calm from secondhand anxiety It’s tiring to be around someone who complains, thrives on drama, or is always high-strung and rushing around. After spending time with this p...
Instant Insight: Let the rules follow you Breaking the rules is generally frowned upon. And in plenty of instances, it's understandable. But what about the rules we set for ourselves? Do the t...