The Cure to Indecision

by Head Health Nutter on August 15, 2008

Do you struggle with indecision? I did for a long time and at one point, indecisiveness nearly ruled my life. It’s an uncomfortable place to be, being unsure of yourself. From little decisions like what to wear and eat, to how you spend your time, even up to the biggies , like ending a bad relationship or quitting a job. But for the most part over the last year and a half, except on low energy days, I’ve been living my life full of confidence.

Why? Well, we’ll get to that in a bit since that’s the focus of this post. But first, I need to confess that doubt has wriggled itself into my mind. The last ten days have been… challenging. I’ve been slipping back into my old habits and addictions : drinking, overeating, using credit, I’ve even smoked several cigarettes! I’m especially upset about this one, considering it would have been a year next month, the longest out of the four times I’ve kicked the cancer sticks…

I’ve justified my behaviour; you know, with `it’s summer and it’s time to relax a bit, loosen up and have some fun’. And I still believe that it’s ok to occasionally indulge in substances that are known to have some health benefits for some people , like coffee, natural sugar, alcohol (especially the anti-oxidant rich dark beers and red wines), and even marijuana.

When past-times start to rule you

But I’ve lost control. I fooled myself. Haha. The joke’s on me. I’ve recently reached for my indulgences in order to reduce stress, even going so far as to create excuses to socially indulge. This behaviour reminds me of the old Stephanie. The one I thought I had buried for good; the one who lived her life thoughtlessly, selfishly and without purpose, indulging in self-destructive activities for instant gratification.

So where have I gone wrong? Why is it that I’ve been smoking when I decided over a year ago to stop, knowing that it’s highly addictive, physically harmful and has absolutely NO health benefits whatsoever? Why have I been emotionally eating, despite knowing that it creates digestive troubles for me, and affects me both mentally and physically? And what’s up with using my credit card when I have less than $1000 to pay off to be debt-free?

The Cure to Indecision is Your Vision

If you have a budget, then you know exactly what you can afford to buy and when you can buy it. Budgets are determined by many factors, including income, expenses, funds such as those for education and vacation, financing big purchases, etc. But a big part of a budget is the financial plan, which is based on how much one thinks they will need at retirement to live a certain lifestyle, a.k.a.: a vision.

The vision involves all aspects of life, including relationships, career, health, financial and spiritual. Your values will help you define your priorities between your life areas. Productivity guru, David Allen , suggests to decide on short-term goals (1-2 years from now and in 3-5 years) that you think will help you reach your vision. Keep in mind, your vision is organic and changes as you do, sometimes in response to an unexpected opportunity.

As in the budget example above, your vision dictates all your decisions. A few years ago, I decided to focus on improving my health because I believe healthy living is worth the effort ; I believe it is the key to happiness and gratitude, which in turn is key to achieving my vision… fast. So from there all my decisions became based on whether or not they promoted health. It was easy! Any action that I thought may be too risky to my long-term health, I simply chose against it.

However, my recent behaviour is not conducive to my vision. I’ve lost my way. I’ve lost sight of my vision. No need to fear, though; all is not lost. I believe all things happen for a reason and so maybe I need to go through this. Call it a test. Perhaps it’s fuel for a follow-up post, “How to Climb Back on the Wagon”. :)

What do you think? Can you see how having a clear vision makes everyday decisions, and the big ones, easier to make with total confidence?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Steph August 18, 2008 at 1:20 pm

I really appreciate the support, Emmanuel! Thank you.

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Darius Bashar August 19, 2008 at 9:49 am

In my personal experience the only way to transcend a bad habit is to associating immediate pain to the destructive behavior.

For example the idea of smoking must create a sense of immediate, unbearable and massive pain.

emphasis on “immediate”.

For me I imagine every puff allowing cancer cells to enter and grow on to my lungs and throughout my body.

I immediately connect smoking with being over weight and not being able to achieve any of my life goals.

Are all these associations facts? Not for everyone but for me my mind makes them just as real as any scientific experiment could.

Again the key is the association must be immediate, unbearable and massive pain.

Great post Steph! Your honest commentary during your struggle is very common experience which I feel all your readers will in some way connect with.

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ricki November 16, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Its over two years now that you have posted this. I find everything that you said completely true but as another case scenario I do find myself not even being able to decide on what my visions are. Not being able to stick to them. I feel I get excited for a few minutes or two days at most what I want to achieve in life but then I lose interest, I get bored and move to the next thing (only to find myself back in wanting the same things i wanted a year prior). I want to achieve so many things, I want to do so many things, experience so many things but in saying that I find myself doing nothing about it because I know that I cannot achieve all of it in my life time. Even though I have a degree I am no longe rhapy with it and have not kept a job for over 1.5 years.
I do agree I can just take one matter at a time and get things done one at a time but then i worry that I want to start another thing or I’m missing on doing something better. (Again going back to then missing out on everything.) For example: I want to learn everything there is about so many sports, be a pro at every sport but then I just lose concentration and hop onto something else. I have no passions for things. I have no drive. No commitment to anything in life… For example I have a goal to learn at least one musical instrument, learn at least 4 languages in my lifetime (I know 2 and a bit from a third already through family) but then I get reading on things for a day and then I don’t force myself to learn more the next. I feel if I do have something that I’m interested in I immediately lose interest because who am i to think I am any good at it. Who am I? Do you understand what I am getting at? I hope maybe you can give me a little advice through your life understandings.

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Head Health Nutter November 17, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Wow, Ricki, what a comment, thank you. It’s actually very timely as I’ve found myself in the Valley of Indecision once again. (So know that you’re not alone!) Your comment gave me time for some reflection and I’d be happy to share some more insights I’ve gleaned that are working for me right now.

1) It’s good to live in the moment. Goals are great to have but they are not the be all and end all. They are meant to create motivation but if they’re sucking the enjoyment out of life – then what’s the point? It sounds like you have a huge number of interests and you follow them when it strikes your fancy. I think that’s great – you’re being true to yourself! As long as you’re enjoying your time, well, some people say the point of it all is the journey, not the destination.

2) A lack of passion, motivation and concentration can be attributed to a health issue. For instance, low testosterone levels. I followed The Hormone Diet 10 week program awhile ago and it worked like a charm. (http://livelighter.org/the-hormone-diet-review/) I’m going to do it again!

3) Something I’ve been trying to work into my schedule again is time for just being quiet or alone with me, myself and I. I do things like walk, journal and meditate – all in order to get to know myself better. We all know what we want in life, we just get confused with what society, authority figures, friends, family, etc. think we want or should want out of life.

4) My friend, Motivatorman, blogs about movies that motivate and recommends the movie Peaceful Warrior. I’m drawn to see this movie again and would like to prescribe it for you, too. Here’s one of Motivatorman’s blog posts on Peaceful Warrior: http://motivatorman.blogspot.com/2007/07/tip69-be-in-moment.html

5) To address your last thought – you are a wonderful human being just like the rest of us. Everyone of us deserves to be happy and as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, then we should be doing whatever we love at the time, as much as we can. Does it matter if we’re any good at it? If I love to sing but can’t carry a tune, I’d sing every chance I got for the pure joy of it. Of course I wouldn’t try to make a living out of it but I’d still honour myself by doing what I love.

Thank you again Ricki for posting this comment and being so honest and sincere. Although I’ve been enjoying the moment for awhile now, it’s time to get decisive again. I hope this response helps just as much as your comment helped me!

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jason August 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm

I am dealing with the exact same issues at ricki. I am doing okay, but cannot make and stick with a deicsion to save my life. i sincerely beleive something is wrong with me. It is comforting to know that others are in the same situation, but it sucks!!!

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Stephanie B October 10, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Yeah, having a vision is great and all, but WHAT IF you are TOO TERRIFIED of even MAKING a vision?! I can’t bring myself to do it!! Where do I want to be in 1-2 years? Hell, I don’t even know there I want to be next week. What do I want to do with my money? Just have enough to meet my basic expenses. I try setting aside $$ to save, and I end up dipping it back out. Where do I want to be personally? I just want to feel safe! I think the bottom line in my case is that I lack emotional security. So, are you saying that making a plan will create that emotional security? My belief is just the opposite: get emotionally secure and the ability to make a plan will follow.

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irene November 25, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Great post for me! I have been in such a rut of indecision for the past year or so. I don’t trust myself or my abilities. For example, my co-workers say that I’m great, can’t do it with out me, etc, etc. and I just think Im fooling them. I really want to move out of this town, but keep saying no to jobs that would do that. I keep trying to save money so that I can AFFORD to move out of my town and I never do. I just keep shooting myself in the foot. I have used to run 5 days a week and LOVED it, now I havent run in over 3 months. I used to feel proud of myself and confident.

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jason November 26, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Irene, I say you should start running again. Maybe not 5 days a week, but maybe once or twice so you can feel alive again. I know I need to workout to relieve that stress and would feel bad both mentally and physically if i stop it. You should see what others see in you. Maybe you dont want to realize that you are awesome. Start believing it, others do. Or maybe youre that good of an actor. If so, stop!

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Head Health Nutter November 28, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Great response, Jason, thank you!

Irene, I can SO relate to you. Take heart because you CAN make the changes you want. Here’s my recent story:

Over this past Spring I hooked up with someone from my home town 5 hours away from where I lived at the time (I was visiting my Mom as she became ill at that time). A few months later, I lost one of my jobs, and was offered a new one in my hometown. It was divine intervention, for sure! Mind you, for about two years now I’ve developed the habit of saving 10% from everything I make (it’s the first thing I do when I get paid is to put this amount in my savings account), so I had the financial means to make this move.

I guess what I’m saying is… if you can help yourself first (i.e. just start saving like I did!), the Universe will be there to support you and your dreams/goals. Things WILL happen for you, but you have to show the Universe you’re willing to do your part.

Also, Jason is right, all you need is to make the time for a couple of runs a week to start off with, because you love it and how it makes you feel! For me as well, I’ve found exercising helps move my energy, which helps in so many ways: physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. Once you get your energy moving again, you’ll find yourself less stuck and more confident to do what you need to do to get where you want to go!

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irene November 30, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Thanks all for the feedback. I ran a 10K today that I had signed up for a long time ago. It wasn’t pretty, but it got done! It reminded me that I enjoy running and should do it more often, and I agree that it would make me feel better about myself. I think that it is hard to make a decision when you dont HAVE to make a decision. I have a well paying job that is ok, and good friends in this town, so making the decision to ACTUALLY move away isn’t so absolute. It’s not like I am indecisive on every front, just big deal issues like this.
I find that I am often envious of people who have very absolute views on things. Most times I think it is narrowminded, but sometimes having absolutes makes decision-making easier. I, on the otherhand, am pretty openminded and easy to please, which makes deciding what I TRUELY want more difficult somehow.

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Head Health Nutter December 6, 2013 at 2:29 am

Congrats on the 10K, Irene! Ah, yes, I totally understand your position now – if there is no real immediate motivating force, of course, change probably won’t happen.

I’m very much like you, Irene, it’s hard to make a decision when you can see the positives of all alternatives! I’m certain that you’ll make a change when you’re ready.

Until then, enjoy your runs!

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