The only thing more difficult than making decisions is second-guessing the ones you have already made.
In my own life, I have noticed a pattern in setbacks. Many of them were due to “second-guessing” my decisions.
Every decision is a choice. The choices we make, make us. As Flora Whittemore said, “The doors we open and close each day decide the life we live.”
That makes deciding a difficult task. And second-guessing only adds to the complexity.
What does second-guessing really mean?
It means you make a decision, and then keep questioning if it was right or not, wondering if your judgment was on track or not.
“Once, many, many years ago, I thought I made a wrong decision. Of course, it turned out that I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought that I was wrong.” – John Foster Dulles
Why we second-guess
We are afraid of the consequences of wrong decisions:
The “what-if” questions that pop up in our mind are usually not the positive kind. Once we narrow down on a path, our mind will conjure up all the pitfalls…everything that could potentially go wrong.
“Wise, experienced” advisors surround us:
You know…the kind of people who somehow know exactly the perfect path for your life. They may have a long list of errors in judgment in their own life, but somehow know all the answers to your particular challenge or problem. When you share your decisions with them, they will give you all the reasons why it is not right or downright treacherous.
We become too aware of the opportunity cost of missing out on the “perfect” decision:
The grass is always greener…inside our head. The vision of the ideal state that will result from our decision is always rosy. In an effort to maximize the fruits
Here’s what second-guessing does to you
It slows you down.
When your mindspace is occupied with the struggle of second-guessing, it’s like trying to drive a car with the hand-brakes on.
2. It doesn’t allow you to do full justice to the decision you made;
You will not be able to exploit the full promise of your decision.
3. It keeps you stuck and going around in circles, without getting anywhere.
4. It makes room for the faulty thinking and decisions of others to intrude into your life.
How to prevent the trap of second-guessing
- Recognize that your first decision is usually a gut-level decision, and its usually right. Learn to repose trust in your own instincts- the wisdom gained from simply living on this planet for so many years.
- Realize that no one on God’s green earth is a flawless decision-maker. Everyone makes mistakes in decisions some time or the other. So, even if your first decision is faulty, you will have a chance to make amends and course-correct at some point (unless the decision threatens life and liberty)
- Know that an imperfect decision followed by definitive action is often better than waiting to seek the perfect decision. Some decision is usually better than no decision.
Go make a decision. Any decision. The first decision that feels right to you.
And then don’t let any ‘wise’ folks and nay-sayers push you into second-guessing.
Then take action…however small it may be.
“A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one.” – Rita Mae Brown