Building Confidence In Your Decision-Making Skills
“What if this doesn’t work?”
“What if I make the wrong choice?”
“What if I fail?”
Feeling insecure about our decisions can be paralyzing, and that paralysis can augment our feelings of insecurity, leading to a vicious cycle of self-doubt, anxiety, and inaction.
According to Erin Brown, in her article 7 Ways To Improve Your Confidence Today, there’s an important distinction to make here. “You aren’t an ‘insecure person.’ You’re simply someone who is feeling insecure, and with practice, you can break out of that mindset and confidently make decisions and take action.”
Erin goes on to say, “Self-confidence… is the one factor that can make or break any action—it’s the difference between I can’t and I’m willing to try.”
And try you must. Brené Brown, in an article for Business Insider about dealing with fear says, “Successful people take risks. It’s the only way to achieve anything of real value.”4 And of course, trying involves making decisions.
One of the best things you can do for building confidence in a decision-making scenario is to use practical pessimism, that is, envision the worst-case scenario of a possible decision, and decide ahead of time how you would handle it.
This is a really powerful tool because it allows you to:
- weigh the pros and cons of a decision
- really think through what the worst-case scenario is (which is usually not as bad as you initially imagine)
- plan what to do
- decide whether or not you could handle and recover from things going badly
This is also an excellent strategy for students, riddled with anxiety preparing for an exam. Krista Rompolski, PhD, states that she often tells her students who are preparing for an exam and quite nervous about failing, “ask yourself what’s the worst that will happen? Will you have to retake the course? Can you handle that?” If you deal with the outcomes and feel prepared for them, it is much easier to take a step forward.
Remember, no one has all the answers, but learning to take action instead of being paralyzed by fear will change your life. Start small. You don’t have to decide to quit your job and start your own business today. But maybe you can have a conversation with your boss about flex time, or working from home, or cutting your hours a bit so that you can invest time into your favorite hobby and see if it could be a viable business. The more you make small decisions, and the more you trust that you can handle the outcome, the more confidence you will build in your decision-making skills.