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Overcome Decision Fear

June 30, 20235 min read

Go Fearwards Friday: 30 June

Hello there!

This is issue #9 of Go Fearwards Friday, where I share something each week to encourage, inspire and equip you to embrace fear and fuel your potential.

This week at a glance:

Read time: 3 minutes

Do you ever feel anxious when it comes to making decisions? 

Or feel overwhelmed and paralysed about what to do?

Decisions are a key moment when fears can come up. So this week we’re taking a look at what lies beneath and some super helpful models that you can apply if this is something that resonates with you.

Let's Go Fearwards 👇

Why am I feeling so anxious about this?

That was the question I asked myself as I threw yet another outfit on the floor, getting hotter and more flustered by the moment.  It was the end of a busy week and we were going out for the first time in ages. I was stressing about what to wear and was getting to the point of overwhelm.  Why was I getting in such a flap? I realised I was worried I’d be out and wish I was wearing something different. I wanted the choice to be the right one. 

As is the Go Fearwards way, it’s worth getting curious about what’s creating the panic/anxiety and indecision.  The fear lurking beneath could be for a number of reasons, and it’s often indicative of our own mental model and how we see the world.

Four Decision Fears

See if any of these four ‘decision fears’ resonate with you:

1. Fear of making a mistake or that the decision could lead to a negative consequence such as regret, criticism from others, or that you won’t be able to cope with challenges that may arise.

2. Fear of disappointing or losing the love, respect or support of people close to you.

3. Fear the decision will lead to unwanted or unexpected changes so even though it’s not satisfying or fulfilling it’s safer to stick with how things are.

4. Fear of missing out or choosing wrongly and that choosing one thing means closing the door on something else.

With each of these there’s a way of thinking, a set of assumptions about ourselves or the way things are that’s triggering the fear. For example that there’s a right answer or people will respond negatively or that we won’t be able to handle what comes next and so on. But we can always use the decision anxiety we feel as our cue to apply a different, more helpful, mental model instead.  

Choosing a Different Model  

Changing our assumptions and perspective are powerful ways to transform our decision making.  Here are three models designed to help you make decisions more easily, effectively and with a lot less fear and anxiety.

The Decide Ahead Model

We tend to underappreciate how much effort goes into making conscious, deliberate decisions.  Every decision, even seemingly inconsequential decisions like what to eat or what to wear, take energy. So if you can relegate them to habit or some kind of routine you don't have to devote any bandwidth to them and can save your focus for the decisions that matter more.  Examples are wearing the same clothes (apparently favoured by Steve Jobs) also meal planning for the week removes deciding what to eat everyday. There's a further step to think about too: if you can make a decision about something in the future while you’re feeling confident, then when it comes to it you can trust that past you made a good choice. I applied this to my clothing decision anxiety. By deciding the outfits I know I feel at my best in ahead of time, when it comes to the odd night out things get to be much calmer!

The 10-10-10 Model

Suzy Welch's 10-10-10 model is a decision-making framework that helps individuals evaluate the potential consequences of their choices. It involves considering the impact of a decision in three different time frames: 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years. By reflecting on how a decision will affect you in the short term, mid-term, and long term, you can gain clarity and make more informed choices. This model encourages individuals to consider both immediate gratification and long-term consequences, enabling them to make decisions that align with their values and goals.

The No Lose Model

Susan Jeffers' No Lose Model challenges the unhelpful thinking pattern that there’s one right way and that you have to make the right choice. When faced with a choice point in life we tend to think ‘what if I choose this and then that happens’ and then when we’ve made the choice question again ‘did I get it right?' or 'what if I’d chosen the other way?’ When you see both paths as 'right' , both with opportunities and other good things on the way, there are no wrong decisions.  Adopting the mindset that 'I can't lose- regardless of the outcome of the decision I make' it shifts your perspective to see more opportunities for growth.

Well that's all for this week. Did you recognise any of those decision fears in your life? Which of the models might you try?  Write back and let me know.

See you next week!

Em x


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Emma O'Brien

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