Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Nobody Changed the World by Being Indecisive

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both… I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

Notice how Robert Frost doesn’t say he thought about taking a certain road. He didn’t call a committee meeting and deliberate over the choice. He didn’t brainstorm the possibilities.

Two Roads Photo

Photo credit: Jan Tik (Creative Commons)

Sure, he was sorry he couldn’t explore both paths. But he did the one thing many of us have grown cautious of doing: He made a decision.

There is a deficiency of good decision-making in our world today. And that needs to change.

Why the struggle?

We creatives (i.e. directors, authors, designers, and more) are especially bad at making decisions. Why is this? Because we dwell in the realm of possibility. Of ideas. Sometimes, it’s hard to choose just one. But that is precisely what we must do.

Creativity is the act of making the possible practical. It’s bringing truth and beauty out of the ether and putting it on display so the world can see and be changed.

When we don’t decide, we dishonor our craft and fail to live up to our callings. We disappoint those who miss the opportunity to be transformed by what we create.

Being decisive is empowering

When you make a decision and follow through, it’s a rush. It makes you feel like you could do it again. And you can.

When you create small wins like this, it builds confidence, which is especially important for those who are extremely talented but insecure (a lot of creative people are this way).

This is especially true for writing. I used to dread the blank page. The idea of writing 500 words a day was overwhelming. But when I started doing it regularly for my blog (because I decided I would), I found it was easier to write another 500 or 1000 words on top of that.

Shirking indecisiveness empowers you to do more than you ever thought possible.

Being decisive is liberating

Not making decisions leads to worry and stress. Many decisions need to be made. When they’re not, you end up delaying the inevitable. As opportunities pile and you continue to stall, anxiety naturally builds. This is no fun.

Note: Decisive people don’t deal with this. They make choices and live with the consequences. It’s those who are indecisive who live in this constant state of mental unrest.

Making better, more resolute (and often quicker) decisions gives you peace of mind. If you neglect this, you may grow bitter and disillusioned. For instance, how many people do you know who say they want to write a book, but never have? Either they’re lying or stalling. Neither is productive, and neither is healthy.

Being decisive earns respect

The world is full of bad leaders, of people who don’t know how to decide what breakfast cereal to buy, much less what political candidate to vote for.

So what do they do instead? They wait. They squander time and opportunity. Mostly because they’re afraid of living with the consequences of the wrong decision. A lot of writers procrastinate until the last possible moment, sabotaging their art in the process.

Here’s the rub: The wrong decision to make is no decision at all. When you make decisions, people take notice. They respect you. Nobody wants to follow an indecisive leader. No one buys from an artist who tells us what he thought about creating. We buy what was created, what was decided upon and then enacted.

Ideas are not enough. We need action. And those who choose to act boldly earn the right to lead us.

Hopefully, I pray, that will be you.

What happens when we don’t decide?

Nothing. No change. no difference made. The world just continues on as it always has. Which is precisely why we need more more decisiveness. The world deserves it. So does your art. So do you.

Whether you’re a writer or an auto mechanic, make the decision to become more decisive today. Trust me, the fruit is worth the pain of having to make a few tough choices.

For more on how to do this, read my guest post at Michael Hyatt’s blog today: The One Essential Habit of Every Effective Leader

If you’re interested in reading more, subscribe to my weekly newsletter. I’m working on a short guidebook on this subject of decision-making for creative leaders, which I’ll share with this list soon. In the mean time, sign up for the list and get my FREE eBook The Writer’s Manifesto.

What’s an example of a time when you made a decision that changed everything? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I am the best-selling author of five books, including the national bestsellers The Art of Work and Real Artists Don't Starve. Each week, I send out a free newsletter with my best tips on writing, publishing, and helping your creative work succeed.

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