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What It Really Means If You’re Indecisive (& How To Figure Out Exactly What You Want)

Decisions don’t have to feel stressful.

Indecisiveness is a way of making decisions by not following your own wants, needs, or desires. In other words, when you are always indecisive, you aren’t deciding to follow what you want or need. If you use this type of decision-making method frequently, it may indicate your own underlying uncertainty about what you really want or need.

Oftentimes indecisiveness indicates fear of failure or disapproval. In addition, it may also mean you aren’t following your true heart’s desires. 

If you don’t know what you want, how can you make a decision to get what you want? In order to conquer indecisiveness, first figure out what you want. You can make decisions that are based on what you wan. However, you first need to develop an awareness of your own feelings and desires. This may not be easy because you may make decisions in order to please others.

To figure out what you want, ask yourself some basic “clean questions.” Clean questioning is a technique, developed by David Grove, of using open-ended questions to discover what you really want. It allows you to access your inner world without the influence of what others want. Using clean language you can conquer indecisiveness.

To use this clean langauge technique learn how to stop being so indecisive, follow these 4 steps:

  1. First, develop your listening skills.

Listen attentively to your own answers without the influence of what you think someone else would want. Listening to your own thoughts takes practice because often the thoughts of others override our own thoughts. This first step allows you to determine what you think and feel about a decision. Take time to relax, listen, and then journal or write down your answers.

  1. Then, ask yourself “clean language” questions.

In order to explore these thoughts and feelings, you’re going to need to explore the issue a bit more and ask yourself some questions. Examples of “clean language” questions include the following:

  • What would you like to happen? This establishes your desired outcome.
  • And what needs to happen? This question establishes the conditions that need to be in place for your desired outcome.
  • Can it really happen?  Do you have the confidence that this desired outcome can really take place? This can be tricky, because our fears and the overriding of our concern about the desires of others, may negatively impact this answer.
  • Will you take the actions needed to make your goal happen? This question will also help you understand your motivation. If you are fearful, then you may simply be unwilling to take the necessary actions to implement your decision.
  1. Next, come up with a metaphor for how it feels.

If the above questions seem overwhelming, ask yourself what it feels like. For example, “It feels like I will be underwater if X happens.” Or, “It feels as impossible as picking up a car.” This reveals a metaphor that you relate to and can use in understanding why you are indecisive.

It reveals the underlying barrier you need to address in order to find the decision that is best for you. The next step is to identify the “who” or “what” of the barrier. Then ask if the barrier is realistic or simply a perceived prohibition by a false belief. Most barriers can be overcome with thoughtful planning. Metaphors are the natural language of the mind and reveal a deeper understanding of our desires and motivations.

  1. Finally, ask yourself this: “What would happen, if I make this decision?”

This explores the fears, prohibitions, and perceived barriers that hinder your decision. Once they are identified and addressed then making the best decision for you will be easier. These barriers are often not realistic or insurmountable but offer resistance to making decisions that are best for your life and not someone else’s.

Using this technique can enhance self-awareness by revealing the inner workings of your indecisiveness. When you practice this technique it encourages you to think differently and may lead to transformation and decisions based on your own wants and needs.

Pat Magerkurth is a life/business coach who studied women in the workplace. Her extensive experience in life and business can help you determine your best strategy for growth. Contact her at pat@inviaconsulting.com for a free consultation to determine if working together will help you move forward to make better decisions for your life and work

Act Like A Woman, But Think Like A Man

Act like a woman, but think like a man to succeed in a male-dominated work environment.  Look no further than the presidential election to find that our culture evaluates women by different standards. For example, no one said that the male candidate needed to “smile” more.

Politics is a male-dominated work environment. As recently as September 2017 Nancy Pelosi reminded the men in a White House dinner meeting that women need to be heard as the men talked over her. She asked “Do the women get to talk around here?” Many women experience being invisible at work.

A study released by the organization Lean In found that white men occupy 67% of C Suite positions. This means women and men of color occupy only 33% of the executive levels in American companies. A study of executive positions in the public sector published by Lynne Rienner Publishers defined five characteristics of an executive position.

  • These roles “uniquely feature solitude” based on their individual actions and accountability.
  • A female leader is subject to greater external scrutiny because of her status as a female and the “great man” model of leadership. This leadership model is at odds with expectations.
  • Leaders often manage a large organizational structure which is hierarchical and may also act as a liaison with external stakeholders.
  • As a leader the executive must be both proactive and reactive. They both set the direction for the organization and react to external forces and factors.
  • In their specific role, each leader must understand a broad set of data points, be able to understand the effect of their actions on the future, and direct their organization.

What does it mean to think like a man?

These characteristics tell us what qualities successful executives or leaders possess.  Thinking like a man means being decisive, assertive, independent, willing to take a stand, and willing to take risks. Feminine attributes include being gentle, cheerful, soft-spoken, eager to soothe hurt feelings, and yielding.  These attributes come from an instrument that plots individuals on a scale from masculine to feminine and in the center is androgynous.

Sandra Bee designed the  Bem Sex Role Inventory to assess how people perceive themselves relative to culturally defined masculine and feminine attributes.  According to Forbes the number one attribute to success is being willing to take risks, which is considered a masculine trait in our culture.

A key dilemma for women in a male-dominated work environment is how to stay out of the traps set by these attributes.  For example, some underlying expectations seem to dictate that women act as the social director or caretaker (planning the social events or always loading the dishwasher). As a result, use these five strategies to think like a man at work.

Five Strategies for Thinking like a Man

  1. Be strategic with your business connections and find mentors and advisers within your field that are not in your workplace. Many successful people have mentors who can help guide them on their path. If you can find a male mentor, good for you.
  2. Speak up in meetings and contribute. At first it may feel awkward because women may not value their own ideas. When constantly interrupted, ask the interrupter politely to let you finish.
  3. Take credit for your ideas and don’t qualify your contributions with language. Statements such as “maybe you’ve tried this before” or “I’m not sure this will work”. Research your idea and prepare a solution focused approach.
  4. Be assertive and don’t let others put you down. You can respond as Nancy Pelosi did in a recent meeting at the White House when all of the men continued to interrupt her. Use light humor, but be careful not to be seen as a clown or silly.
  5. Let go of little slights. Gender bias can be unintentional. Use the interaction as an opportunity to educate your coworker in a non-confrontational manner.

Women getting ahead in the workplace dictates our need to support each other, because women have a long way to go to find parity. First be introspective about your workplace dilemmas. Ask initially what you need to do differently for a different outcome. It helps to recognize your own participation in the system.  Then proactively work to make changes where you can.

As a coach and consultant with over 40 years in the corporate world, Pat Magerkurth can help you solve some of these complex workplace dilemmas. Contact her at Pat@inviaconsulting.com for a free initial session to discuss your specific situation and goals.

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