Just Pick One!
There are people who always know what food they’re in the mood for, and others who couldn’t choose a restaurant to save their life. Some people are simply more decisive than others. But decisiveness is not like height, it’s a trait that can be improved with practice and self-reflection. As a freelancer, being decisive is essential as we’re constantly making choices that shape our careers. Do we take this job or that job? Charge this rate or that rate? Often these decisions need to be made quickly with little time to think it over. Decisiveness isn’t about being correct all the time, it’s about making a decision. Sometimes you just need to. Being comfortable with that is imperative to your success as a freelancer.
A lack of decisiveness can come from a lack of trust in ourselves. Either we don’t value our ability to judge a situation, or we simply don’t know what it is that we want. Whichever it is, it can be conquered through fairly simple exercises. The easiest would be to reflect. Take some time, a few hours, a few days, to sit and reflect on all the jobs you’ve ever had. Where were you the happiest? The most depressed? The most fulfilled? The most frustrated? Where was that job located? How many people worked there? What was your boss like? Was it part time or full-time? Unless you have a stellar memory you should write this all down.
Despite this reflection being about your career, you shouldn’t only be reflecting on work. Many other factors determine what job might be the right fit. Reflect on school, on hobbies, on what weather you enjoy, what food you like, and what after-hour activities you prefer. Hopefully, these questions will prompt even more, and ideally a deep examination of your experiences, your ambitions, your motives, and your desires; eventually forming a clearer picture of your future.
Another simple way to become more self-aware is to get an outside perspective. Advice from those you trust can be quite valuable. Ask friends, family, or co-workers some of the same questions you asked yourself. One last method may be a bit superficial, but you could always take a personality test. There are plenty out there that can be quite revealing (although they range in accuracy).
Probably the best way to conquer indecisiveness is to simply make decisions and live with the consequences. Easier said than done of course. The whole problem is that you can’t make decisions. The pressure of decision making can be lessened if you think of a decision like an experiment. Every time you’re at a crossroads, no matter how inconsequential, document your choice. Think about why you chose what you did and what thought process lead you to it. What was the immediate consequence of the choice? What was the long-term consequence? Write this all down for future reference. Treating a decision like an experiment can lessen the imagined impact it has and better inform your future decisions. You don’t necessarily need to document why you chose a sandwich over a salad (unless you want to), but any career decision you’re feeling nervous about, make sure to record your findings. It will make you more confident in your choices going forward.
CONQUERING THE FEAR OF FAILURE
This really is the root of all indecision. The fear of failure may be the most common fear among human beings. If we weren’t all afraid to fail we may have reached Mars by now. There’s no way to know if that’s true but it’s nice to think about. It’s not rocket science to understand how one might move past their fear of failure; to fail of course. There’s nothing that makes you more okay with failure than failure. The key here is to fail at something that isn’t too important. Take up a new hobby, play a new sport, compete in a contest, anything that is unrelated to your career or your primary goals. Attempting these low stakes failures is a way to acclimate to larger and larger failures. This is not to say you should attempt these things with the intention of failing, but we all fail sooner or later. The more you try the more you fail, and eventually, the more you succeed.
If you’ve tried all of our suggestions and it didn’t immediately make you more decisive please don’t enact revenge. It’s important to continuously perform these exercises throughout your life. Confidence and self-awareness aren’t gained overnight, they are lifelong efforts. If you are consistent, eventually you’ll be able to make that split-second decision and know it was the right one; and if you do make a mistake now and again, like we all do, you won’t beat yourself up over it. Freelancers are in the driver’s seat of their careers and the number of decisions in front of them can be daunting. Being able to succinctly and resolutely make the right decisions is a crucial skill.