Be Decisive in Adverse Situations

Adverse situations are a fact of life, but passively wishing for them to resolve on their own rarely works. The better strategy is to face them head-on with both resilience and decisiveness.

Living with Indecision

Tough life circumstances are often surrounded by myriad decisions, whether they’re related to funeral plans, career paths, living arrangements or other issues. Making decisions can be hard, especially when it seems like there is a lot riding on your choices. However, indecision compounds stress. According to Michael Diettrich-Chastain, LPC, DCC of Synergy Consulting and Counseling, “When we avoid conflict or adversity, often times not knowing if or when a situation will resurface can be just as stressful as the situation itself.”

Indecision can quickly multiply. The longer you delay making a decision, the more anxious you may become about it. As anxiety increases, it becomes even harder to commit to a decision. Therefore, having the skills to make decisions quickly is beneficial for your mental health.

Developing Resilience

“Being decisive requires resilience in the moment,” explains Joanie B. Connell, Ph.D. of Flexible Work Solutions. She describes resilience as “being able to stay strong and positive in the face of adversity.” Everyone deals with tough situations in life, but people who are resilient can handle the hardships better.

According to the American Psychological Association, resilient people:

  • Formulate and implement realistic plans

  • Are self-confident

  • Can communicate well

  • Are good at problem solving

  • Keep their impulses in check

These characteristics go hand-in-hand with strong decision making skills. Decisiveness requires you to have confidence in your abilities, to objectively analyze a situation, to make a plan for dealing with it and communicate the plan to yourself or others. As you develop resilience, you’ll be better at making decisions in adverse situations, and as you practice making decisions, you’ll bolster your resilience.

Learning to Be Decisive

Confident decision making is a skill you can learn. The way to become more decisive is simply to make decisions. Start small if you have to. “If someone asks what you want for lunch, where you want to go, what movie you want to see, state a specific opinion,” coaches Diettrich-Chastain. He explains that the “quality of decisiveness builds over time.”

Remind yourself that not every decision has to be permanent. “Making a decision based on the information you know with contingencies for information you still need to gather is a good way to take action and avoid analysis paralysis,” encourages Connell. Instead of putting off a decision until you have gathered every bit of information and analyzed every possible variable, go ahead and make one now. You can always modify it down the road.

When you learn to do this, the benefits will stick with you over the long term, even during adverse situations. As Diettrich-Chastain summarizes, “Practicing being decisive will help build your own sense of preference and, ultimately, your resilience.”