We spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking about the small decisions. In the grand scheme of life, what color you paint your walls is a very small decision. But many of us probably spend more time thinking about wall colors, then we did about choosing which college to go to.
There are lots of things that get in the way of making these small decisions. Mostly we get in our own way.
You say you want a second-opinion, but it’s really because you don’t trust your own.
You say there are too many colors to choose from, but you’re the one that brought all the samples home.
You say you haven’t had time to think about it, but it’s really all that’s been on your mind.
We toil over the small decisions, because they don’t need to be made. We can sit on them forever. Think about them endlessly.
I used to think it was a form of procrastination. Now I know it is self-doubt. Doubt that impacts my ability to choose. When I can’t make a decision, I feel stuck. I feel useless. I feel unsure.
I finally realized indecision was a symptom of self-doubt when I noticed myself asking for second-opinions. How many second-opinions I asked for was equivalent to how much I doubted myself. I thought asking someone else–essentially to make the decision for me–would help. It didn’t. It made the next decision even harder.
With thousands of small decisions to make in your home–everything from what color to paint the walls to which way the bed should face–you need confidence. You’ll never get anywhere filled with self-doubt.
The only fix is to figure out the source of self-doubt and eliminate it. Validation from others will not restore your confidence or guarantee a good choice. The only way to do that is to build decision-making confidence. Which really only comes with making more decisions.
7 Strategies to Make Better Decorating Decisions
Because the better decision is always the one that gets made.
1. Gut Check
If you are waffling on a decision, stop and do a gut check. Is your indecisiveness really your gut telling you the option you’re leaning towards is wrong? Get in tune with your gut. Trust it. Which choice is it settled with?
Trusting your gut isn’t about playing it safe or neutral.
It’s about following your instincts, both when something feels right or wrong. If your top choice leaves an unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach as you mumble through clenched teeth, “Gah! I just can’t decide” it probably doesn’t pass the gut check.
2. Let Go of the Past
Every choice we make in life has consequences, good or bad. We are programmed to learn from those consequences. Touch a hot stove, you get burned and you learn not to touch a hot stove again.
The same thing happens in less dire situations. Buy a crappy sofa, you get burned (metaphorically).
But the lesson learned from a bad decorating choice isn’t always as clear.
Should you try out more sofas next time? Should you never buy anything from that store again? Should you just not buy furniture ever again? Maybe you shouldn’t trust yourself to decorate? Snowball effect.
When the lesson learned isn’t crystal clear, it’s more important than ever to make another decision. Because past decisions don’t always predict success or failure of future decisions. Sometimes you have to let go of the past to move forward.
Just because you chose a crappy sofa, doesn’t mean you are unable to choose a good dining table (or even another sofa). Focus on the new decision at hand and make one. Because the worst decision you can make is no decision at all (while eating dinner around the coffee table every night perched on the edge of your crappy sofa).
3. Be Yourself
Do you ever feel the pressure to be someone you’re not? Maybe you are really drawn to a funky teal apartment sofa, but all your friends have overstuffed, white slipcovered living room sets. You might feel like you should do what everyone else is doing.
The thing is, no one else has to live in your home.
You have nothing to prove. Imagine you are making this change for you and only you, then what would you do? Stop thinking worrying about the outside influencers.
4. Don’t Look At All the Options
Have you given yourself too many choices to be successful? Too many choices might make you freeze up.
Paint samples are a good example. You cannot be successful choosing a paint color in the paint store with thousands of options staring you in the face. Narrow down what you want before you even look at paint chips (try my 7-Steps to Create Your Whole House Color Palette). Then, only look at the relevant samples. Ignore all the rest.
Same thing with price options. If you have less then $1000 to spend on a new dining table, don’t even look at anything over that amount.
Looking at all.the.options introduces erroneous choices your mind has to deal with.
If you find yourself hoarding options, you need to step back and establish criteria for what you want. With color, I always say it starts with a feeling. With furniture, style, size, and price are great starting points. Use your criteria to ruthlessly weed out the non-options. It will be easier to choose from only the select few that meet your criteria.
5. Never Force It
Too few choices can be as bad as too many. Are you trying to force something to work when you don’t like any of the available choices?
If you don’t like the available options, choosing one seems impossible.
Don’t choose from bad options.
I am notorious for knowing what I want, but forcing myself to find it locally. When I don’t see exactly what I want, I agonize over what to choose instead. What I should really do is expand my options or look elsewhere (like online), instead of trying to force myself to settle.
6. Don’t Rush It
Are you rushing a decision? There are few decisions in life that need to be made immediately.
Rarely is a decorating decision urgent.
If you need more time, take it. You may want to get the project done tomorrow, but if it means forcing a decision prematurely, you will be less satisfied with the result even though you got it done.
7. Don’t Overthink It Either
Taking too much time is as bad as too little. Are you overthinking and taking too long to decide?
Often times your first choice, or instinct, is what you wanted all along – no extra thought needed.
The more time you give yourself to overthink and second-guess a choice the harder making a decision becomes. Give yourself the time you need, but no more. Set a deadline.