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How to Practice Decisiveness

Self | Attie Murphy | 7 mins

If you were to ask my friends to describe me, "decisive" is not the first word they would use. I've spent hours hungry with other indecisive people as we struggled to choose a place to eat. At the end of the day, Taco Bell is the final frontier of desperation; and that is a classic example of failure by forfeit. When we give up on a decision, we still choose something. Whether we're afraid of failure or don't like our options, our refusal to decide is a path of its own. And even when we do choose, our procrastination can lead to a cycle of self-doubt. Especially with more impactful decisions, we think we will live with regret if we don't evaluate every angle for as long as possible. In those moments, we need to know the difference between discernment and fear. We need to stop allowing doubt to prevail without reason. Through wisdom and practice, we can have peace to embrace decisiveness. 

Know who you are

Before we can make decisions with confidence, we need to know what value system we will use as our guide. The Bible gives us a firm foundation for many of the situations we face, even for things that may seem trivial. It's not just the big decisions that our fears can stifle. Something as simple as the choice between two types of shoes can cause despair because of a lack of certainty in general. Our need to make "right decisions" stems from a hunger for control. In the back of our minds, we think that if we mess up one little thing, we will lose balance. The problem is, we will never find peace in the routines of the world. We need to know who we are in Jesus. When we understand God's purpose for our lives and the intentions of His teachings, then we can have confidence in how we take our next steps. Our anxieties will lessen when we acknowledge our unique and valued identities in Him. We have more clarity in everything we do when we allow ourselves to simply be who we are created to be. 

"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." - 2 Timothy 1:7 

Understand discernment

Solid decision-making relies on discernment. The Bible tells us that discernment is how we recognize what will lead us closer to God. So what do we do when there is no clear “right” or “wrong?” Decisiveness doesn't mean we have to make decisions at the drop of a hat. Wisdom doesn't come with haste. Decisiveness means we should proactively make decisions based on the resources we have available. Our biggest hang-up is the looming reality of “opportunity cost.” We make wiser decisions when we consider the alternatives we are giving up, but our mistake is when we want to make a flawless choice. Our tools of discernment can show us which decision is most worth our time, energy, or money. Still, the “best” choice won’t always keep the outcome from being different from what we expect. Our need to predict the future is what holds us back from moving forward, when we always wonder if there’s another more valuable option. 

The Bible shows how we should seek discernment in several ways. First of all, we open ourselves to wisdom when we welcome God into every aspect of our lives. We can connect to Him through prayer, through His Word, or through whatever ways help us to hear His voice. When we have somewhere to turn to for a "why" for our choices, we will grow to have a familiar and straightforward evaluation process that is unique to all of us. We should also seek support from our community and open ourselves to new possibilities through different perspectives. The more we grow in our discernment, the more we will have peace with our decisions, even when the outcomes are not necessarily what we wanted. 

Practice, not perfect

In my opinion, practice is the most essential key to decisiveness. You can start with one thing that you do every day and practice a decision-making routine. Are you often not sure where to start when you get to work? Give yourself two minutes to decide. Chances are, you know what your first priority is; you just have to give up second-guessing. Once you choose, move forward as if there were no other options. When we practice making the most of our time, we make firm choices that respect our responsibility to ourselves. When we get things done, the results are often imperfect, but we can know that we used our time productively. We live more freely when we recognize that decisiveness is at the core of every habit we embed in our lives. We all have times, whether for long periods or in certain areas, where we lack motivation. And that "laziness" usually comes from our belief that whatever we do may not be worth the effort it takes. That mental fatigue is a symptom of our indecisiveness. Habits lead us to tell ourselves, “This is something that matters and it doesn’t require anxiety.” For me, the best way to practice is to wake up, think about my realistic goals, and say, ”Right now I’m going to do this because it will help me to do (or think) this.” And then whenever I reach a crossroads or an empty space, I use whatever tools of discernment I have to repeat that step. Of course, I fail at this a lot, but I know it’s something I can do - and that gives me hope as I work to make the most of my unpredictable life. 

Written By

Attie Murphy

An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.

Published on Oct 4, 2021