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Decision-Making: Do You Know What You Want?

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Do you know the average person makes about 200 decisions each day? And that’s just about food.

I admit I’m that person who stares at the menu for way too long before ordering. Sometimes, I even get anxiety standing in line at Starbucks. As I’m waiting and thinking about my options, I panic when it’s my turn and just say, “Grande black coffee.” And then I walk away realizing I really wanted a latte. Oh, well…better luck next time.

While my morning coffee certainly isn’t a life-or-death decision, indecisiveness can become a problem when it impacts other areas of your life: relationships, career, finances, and the list goes on.

For example, when someone asks, “What do you want in a partner?” many people will say something along the lines of: “I don’t want someone who is lazy and boring.” Or when someone asks, “What do you look for in a job?” they will reply, “I just don’t want to be a teacher anymore. I need a change.”

When you don’t know what you want, you answer questions in the negative. On the other hand, when you do know what you want, you answer in the positive.

So, the responses above will change to, “I want to be with someone who is ambitious and has a sense of humor,” and “I am looking for a position where I can apply my passion for educating and inspiring others.”

The reason we complicate things and can’t make decisions is because we don’t have a clear sense of our core values and our life’s purpose. Our purpose is what paves a clear path, and our values provide clarity on the steps we must take to get there.

Think about it: The world’s greatest leaders and visionaries know their purpose, which drives all of their decisions, actions and direction in life. Their strong belief systems are also what protects them from being controlled their by impulses.

Most of our unhappiness comes from not knowing what we want and not knowing what to do in certain situations.

So, how do we get clear on what we want? By analyzing our motives. It’s not so much what people do and say, but why people do and say the things they do. Our motives reflect our deepest fears, insecurities, values and beliefs.

Why do you stay in a job you hate? The fear of starting over. Why do you stay in a dysfunctional relationship? The fear of loneliness. In both scenarios, it’s a fear of the unknown.

We prefer to stay in what feels safe and secure rather than taking the risks that could make us truly happy and fulfilled.

The key to making good decisions is to become driven by optimism rather than pessimism. Have faith that leaving your current job will open the door to a more gratifying career, and have faith that walking away from an unhealthy relationship will create the space for a new love to come into your life.

Decision-Making: Do You Know What You Want?

Kaitlin Vogel

From covering health and wellness content to neuroscience to relationships and dating advice, I’m committed to creating content that matters. My goal is for readers to walk away feeling empowered and motivated – whether it’s to pursue their dream job, strengthen the connection with their partner, or follow mindfulness strategies to relieve stress and anxiety.

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APA Reference
Vogel, K. (2018). Decision-Making: Do You Know What You Want?. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 2 May 2018
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