Happiness 3: Ditch the dithering!

Are you a ditherer? Do you struggle to make decisions? Me too, sometimes. I used to struggle for hours — days — over whether or not to do something. These days, I tend to make more snap decisions than I used to.

Photo of a green, grassy hill and wooden steps leading in multiple directions.

Make a decision and take action. It will help beat the feeling of overwhelm and improve your productivity.

That might sound reckless, but there’s a very good reason behind my impetuosity: making decisions reduces anxiety and worry.

It’s day 3 of my little happiness series, and this tip isn’t just a happiness tip, it’s a productivity tip, too: making decisions helps you solve problems and get stuff done.

Here’s an example: have you ever felt overwhelmed by how much you have to do? Of course you have. We all have. When we feel overwhelmed, we tend to procrastinate. We dither over what’s most important, and what to do first.

Now, my advice is always to eat the frog first, but if you can’t or won’t do that… my next advice is: do the smallest thing on your list. Make that decision, and do it.

You will feel loads better.

More good news: making decisions includes setting goals and creating intentions because it’s all part of the same circuitry in your noggin. They all engage your prefrontal cortex in a positive way, and that reduces worry and anxiety.

Even better: decision-making helps overcome striatum activity — that’s nerd-speak for something that encourages you towards negative impulses and damaging routines. So, for me, making a decision about my business or marketing might prevent me from reaching for my phone to play a game “just for 5 minutes” to distract me from what I’m not doing.

Even betterer, making a decision changes your perception of your world because you’re finding a solution to your problem.

All that said, though, making decisions can be really tough, right? Right.

What to do?

How to decide?


First, remember this: there are very few things in life that are truly irreversible. Losing a limb… dying horribly in a meteorite strike… that kind of thing. But most stuff?

Especially business stuff? It’s not Earth-shattering.

So here’s my little secret: make a decision that’s good enough. Stop aiming for perfect, because it doesn’t exist.

Trying to make the perfect decision overwhelms your brain with emotions and that’s why you feel out of control.

Trying to be good enough, well — that puts you in control. You make that decision to the best of your ability, then do it.

All that’s great, right?

But even more than that, here’s a nifty thing about making decisions: it actually makes you feel pleasure. They’ve done studies. Making an active decision boots dopamine, the pleasure hormone.

That fascinating little fact reveals something really important: if you exercise because you feel like you have to, you won’t get the same benefits. It’s stressful. If you exercise because you want to, because you choose to, it’s much better for you and it builds a good habit. So choose exercise you enjoy; don’t just drag yourself to the gym reluctantly.

That goes for business habits, too. If there’s something you feel you have to do, you’ll never enjoy it. So either get rid of it, outsource it, or change it so you do enjoy it.



Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.

PS Talking about enjoying your business and building habits you enjoy, here’s a thought: are you really enjoying running and marketing your business? Do you love it? Or is it a cause of anxiety, more often than you’d really like to admit? Do you think that might be because you’re trying to be something you’re not? It’s very common; I’ve been there.

I wasn’t quite sure who or what I was really doing, so I spent a lot of time looking around at other people and trying to be more like them. It didn’t work. It doesn’t  work. So what does? I spent a long time discovering how best to run my business, and then I wrote a book – Business For Superheroes – so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did! You can get a copy here.

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