Should I End Indecision, Or…?

Should I End Indecision, Or…?

I have always been indecisive. I like to joke that it’s because of my astrological sign:  Libra (the scales) which is all about weighing options. According to an astrology website, “Libra’s indecisiveness is caused by the fear that a wrong decision will…cause turmoil in their lives.” Sounds about right.

Another classic case of my ambiguity is my name. My own mom didn’t like decisions either, so she specifically chose Elizabeth to give me myriad nicknames to pick from in case I didn’t like being called Betsy. Fortunately I have always liked it, so there’s one less thing for me to agonize over. But really, is it any wonder that I have a hard time making decisions?

Currently, I am looking into graduate school with the end goal of attaining a Ph.D. As you may have guessed, this process is full of decisions. Very important decisions. Life-altering decisions, you might even say. Talk about turmoil.

Predictably, I have been reluctant to make even the smallest of choices to start. (Are there even any “small” choices when it comes to decisions that will affect THE REST OF YOUR LIFE? Doesn’t feel like it.)

Luckily for me, my mother saw my stagnation and apparent inability to move forward for what it really was: backing up in order to take a running leap. From this perspective, I was able to see myself in a new light, as someone who is working towards what I want, not backing away. I have to tell you, having that kind of unconditional love and support and being able to count on your mom as your advocate like that makes a huge difference.

Last month in my post about reversing guilt, I explained how finding the wish behind the “should” puts you in touch with who you really are. Since then, I have been diligently listening for any “shoulds” in my vocabulary. Every time I catch one, I replace it with “wish” and see what happens.

So last week when I started to once again feel overwhelmed by how much I don’t know about applying to grad school, I finally heard the tiny voice that has been there this whole time telling me I should know everything about it already. I mean, if you’re going to apply, you should definitely know what to do, and what not to do, right? So then no wonder I couldn’t do anything to move forward. I was already wrong for not knowing!

Speaking to myself as my mom has always done, I switched the “I” to “you” and validated myself with:

“You think you should already know what to do.”

I had to nod because it was so true!

It’s amazing how simply validating your thoughts with “you think…” rather than affirming them with “I” gives you the distance you need to put them into perspective, makes them less real, and takes away their power.

Then when I replaced “should” with “wish,” I realized that my real truth this whole time has been:

“I wish I knew what to do.”

Hearing that, I was suddenly ready to take action and find out all the things I wish I knew! That same day I arranged a meeting with a family friend who is currently earning a Ph.D. and set an appointment with my previous adviser at UT here in Austin.

Because I grew up with validation and STRENGTH-naming, I’ve always known that once I know what I want, I go after it. The place I got stuck was knowing what I wanted. So somewhere along the way, I must’ve decided that knowing was the key to action, which became “I should know already.” Are you starting to see the fatal flaw in my logic? Fortunately, I’ve been on the lookout for “shoulds” lately, finally caught this one and turned it into a “wish.” It has made a huge difference already.

Wishes put you in touch with what you really want, which is the only true motivation in life.

Trust me, you will not go after something if it’s not what you want, or can’t see how it will eventually result in something you want.

The best part is, you actually do already know what you want. You just need to SAY WHAT YOU SEE to yourself so you can actually hear it. That’s why I use language hacks like “should” –> “wish.” It’s how I become my own advocate, the way my mom always has been for me. Now that’s a great legacy.


  1. cocochanel |

    Love this post! I am so indecisive too, always weighing up my options, I made the switch from ‘should’ to ‘wish’ and find myself using it regularly. It’s powerful!

  2. Betsy Blackard |

    cocochanel, thank you! It’s nice to know my little trick is helping you as much as it helps me!

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