Last week, I had a conversation with someone who was second-guessing a choice they made…several years ago. 

For the last five days, I’ve been noodling on a potential purchase, unable to make a choice of whether or not to actually buy the service I’m considering.   

When was the last time you second-guessed a choice of yours? When was the last time you found yourself waffling between saying “yes” or “no”? 

Notice my question didn’t lead with “have you.” Because I bet you can relate, and have found yourself either questioning if the “right” choice was made, or being a bit reluctant to make a choice in the first place. 

I look at second-guessing and indecision as different sides of the same coin. Because while not the same, they are closely related and share common characteristics. 

In their own way, each reflect when, to some degree, you and I are:

  • Struggling to make peace with uncertainty;
  • Struggling with the idea of perfection;
  • Struggling to quiet the noise…oops, I mean, the voices of others sharing unsolicited advice;
  • Lacking confidence and/or competence; and/or
  • Navigating the fear of making a mistake (this is behind the dilemma I mentioned above; I fear experiencing buyers remorse…again).

What’s the Cost?

While second-guessing and indecision are behaviors we’re all prone to engage in from time to time, they do come with a cost

We pay a price in terms of missed opportunities, stagnation, increased stress and anxiety, loss of self-trust, potentially wasted time and energy, and possibly regrets or replays of “what-ifs.”

And these costs can be significant, impacting your money, business, and life.

Yet, these behaviors also represent unlikely opportunities for us to develop a deeper level of self-knowing, which can help you and me prepare for the future with more confidence? 

More EQ Can Help

“What else would you have used the money for?”

This is the question I asked my friend who was second-guessing her choice. 

And as we talked about what else she could have possibly done with it, it became clearer that she did, indeed, make the correct choice. 

Her second-guessing was steeped in doubt and fear of perhaps having made a wrong choice. My indecision was steeped in the fear of potentially making a wrong choice

On the surface, second-guessing and indecision are often viewed negatively.  

However, I believe there are situations where doubt and fear can actually be beneficial. Particularly when the concern is related to possibly wasting money, as was the case for her and me. 

Enter emotional intelligence (EQ). Aka: another reason why money isn’t monolithic or just about the numbers. 

Because embedded in every financial choice are the psychological and emotional aspects of decision-making, especially when the consequences are significant, the dollar amount is high, or both. 

Here are some instances where (her) reflection and (my) pause can have positive outcomes:

Complex & Emotional

If you’ve ever inherited money, you might be able to relate to the emotional burden of wanting to use that money wisely. So you wonder about every choice – the ones you’ve already made and the ones on your to-do list. It can take a bit of time developing a way to consider your options, make a choice, and then be at peace with the choice and the outcome. 

But I think if your choices align with your goals and values, well, then, you made the best and correct choice. 

Preventing Impulsive Decisions

I definitely make an investment in my own professional development. So, when I heard about a two-day marketing workshop, I was all ears. But the more I looked into it, instead of having that, “yeah, this is perfect” feeling, I had questions about whether it would be a fit given my business goals right now. 

My questions weren’t unfounded, though. They were the result of past instances when I signed up to work with someone and it didn’t net the results I had expected. 

By being cautious and deliberate, I came to the conclusion that while the workshop was being offered right now, I didn’t have to take it right now. 

Pausing can safe-guard against choices made impulsively or out of fear of missing out. 

Encouraging Self-Reflection

To reach the conclusions we reached, both my friend and I had to do some self-reflection. And just like I was a sounding board for her, a business-bestie was a sounding board for me. For both of us, it was the questions that were asked that lead to greater self-awareness and deeper insights into our respective values, priorities, and aspirations. 

Self-reflection puts you in a position to make choices that are more authentic to what you need and want. 

Getting Feedback

Although you are surrounded by people who care for you and your well-being, there are some choices you need to make on your own. And this, sometimes, can lead to you actually feeling like you are alone. When the reality is anything but! 

When you find yourself second-guessing or being indecisive, it could be a signal that you need a different perspective. Don’t be afraid to consult with *someone you trust who can help you gain clarity and confidence with your decision-making process. (*This can be a family member, friend, colleague, or hired professional.)

Make Room to Be Wrong

Neither of us wanted to feel “wrong.”

She and I are not unlike you. Because having an aversion to being wrong is a natural human tendency, for a host of reasons. 

It can be a blow to our ego and self-esteem. 

We might fear the judgment of others about our decision-making skills. 

Or, we might be concerned about losing credibility and respect. 

We might simply have a hard time acknowledging and accepting when/if we made a mistake. This is known as cognitive dissonance.

While we shouldn’t be reckless, particularly when it comes to choices that are significant, will cost a lot in terms of money and emotion, or reflect elements of all of these, I don’t think you and I can completely quell the voice of doubt and fear. 

In fact, there are times when second-guessing and indecision can be beneficial. 

If for no other reason then that they can help you do all you can to make the best choices you can in the moment or in the future. 

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