Have Decision-Making Anxiety?
Overcome It With These 10 Tips
By Maliha Safiullah
It is said that with great power comes great responsibility but no one ever told us that with great power comes great anxiety. Our ancestors had a fairly simple life - wake up at the crack of dawn and go out to gather berries and nuts or wait patiently (sometimes for days) for an animal to attack with a spear. They were not forced to make millions of decisions we have to make daily. However with technology humans have been freed up to make decisions, countless decisions. They have to choose between a dizzying array of t-shirts to wear and when to respond to which text, which of the billion news items to follow and this is all before they have even had their breakfast cereal that they selected out of the several hundred available. This is the best case scenario for people without any anxiety disorder.
For those who are suffering already, any decision can become a trigger of anxiety and amplify the scale of the decision far from reality making it a massive problem. However, this analysis paralysis has become all too common and science is finding ways to overcome the problems of decision making. With the advent of artificial intelligence many tough decisions that would have made even the toughest people sweat are now being delegated to algorithms. Imagine for instance a doctor who is using the technology of remote patient monitoring to check up on multiple patients. Suppose now that he is suddenly confronted with a consecutive series of problems amongst patients with ailments afflicting them simultaneously. How is to decide which patient to attend first and who to leave out? Luckily with modern AI technologies like the ones being pioneered by LocateMotion, he doesn’t have to go through that ordeal. The AI software would take all the readings, history and other stats and itself label them in orders of priority to ensure maximum effectiveness. However, until we can have AI replacements in our lives we will need other psychological tools to deal with our daily grinds. Here are ten tried and tested ways to conquer decision making anxiety
- Simplify your life! There is a good reason why Mark Zuckerberg despite being one of the richest men in the world wears a gray T-shirt every day. It’s because he doesn’t have to choose anymore. You too can just remove all things that are unnecessarily causing decision making fatigue by firstly reducing the number of decisions you make.
- Record Your Wins. Every time a good decision is made you know that you don’t have to make it again. Imagine going into a store to buy the best cereal and staring at isles endlessly wondering which one is right for you and will deliver the taste and health benefits you want. Well if after years of experimentation you finally find one that works for you, then stick to it! No need wasting more time worrying about this aspect.
- Set a minimum no sweat threshold. Decide what the impact of a decision will be ideally in monetary terms and decide how much you would worry if you lost a minimum amount. Depending on your financial health it could be $1 or $1000. Either ways set a minimum threshold of the minimum amount of money that even if you lost you wouldn’t care. So if your threshold is $20 and you have to decide what to eat for lunch then just choose anything. At worse you’ll be losing no more than that $20 you already have no problems with losing.
- It cannot be stressed enough that meditation is truly one of the finest tools out there to help you calm your emotions, regardless of decisions or not. Meditation helps you see things as they really are without them being colored by the lens of the feelings that you may have and important decisions are best made when you are cool, calm and collected.
- Set deadlines. If a decision needs to be made by a particular date then you can avoid the pain of the anxiety that looms over you by pushing it forward to a time when the decision actually has to be taken. Most times we are experiencing decision anxiety of a decision that is to be taken in the future but the future calculations keep causing us to panic. Take your time and know that when the time comes you will choose.
- Trust your instinct. A lot has been said about how our intuition is mostly correct but by over-thinking we end up making incorrect decisions. In his best seller book “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking”, the psychologist, Malcolm Galdwell, argues that we as humans are innately good at finding patterns and reading a situation and more often than not already know the correct answer but by overanalyzing it end up jeopardizing our own best interest.
- Abandon perfectionism. It leads you to scrutinize every detail endlessly and split hair. Know that there is always room for improvement but your decision was great and that’s all you needed.
- Find the right crowd. A doctor looking after multiple patients’ needs to be precisely right in their needs. You probably don’t need that level of precision and just need the right direction. One of the best ways to find your bearings is by checking in with people you trust and know are the ones who have your best interest at heart.
- Ask yourself, do you really need to make the decision or can it be delegated to someone else. The most common problem amongst leaders becomes the desire to micromanage and latch on to what they consider power and authority. Ditch that to find inner power
- Choose growth. Plain and simple, whenever you have to make a decision choose the one that will help you grow the most. We are here to compete with who we were yesterday and no one else.