What to do when you’re afraid to decide what you want

For some people, it’s downright terrifying when someone asks, “So what is it you want to do with your life? What do you want for yourself?” It’s terrifying because it’s not just about what you want. It’s about the impact you hope to make, and you’re afraid you might make no impact at all.


This may sound like I’m writing the thoughts of your conscience, and maybe I am, in some ways.

Deciding what you want is a challenge because:

  • What if someone doesn’t like your decisions?
    What if someone thinks you’re horrible for what you want? (Even when what you want is perfectly reasonable, rational and sane.)
  • What if you constantly have to explain why and defend what you want? Too much effort? Right.
  • What if choosing to make decisions that require some effort, self-care and boundaries makes all hell break loose?

Surely some of these questions sound familiar. I know I’ve had them going through my own mind.

In some cases, it may be necessary to ask harder questions, such as:

  • Is it worth selling your soul for money, benefits and people who only come your way when they want something?
  • Is it worth giving up your peace of mind to gain the approval of people who will never be your judge before God, and whose opinions are fuelled by manipulation?
  • Is it worth giving up who you are and who you want to be, to get far less than you deserve and less than you are worth?
  • Is it worth giving up your mental, physical and emotional health while grinding away to quiet the voice that tells you you’ll never get anywhere?

No. No it’s not. There comes a point where money cannot buy the sort of peace that enables you to sleep at night. Sleep without dreaming about confrontations where you say everything you couldn’t say in real life. Sleep without dreaming about situations in your life that fill you with a sense of dread all the time.

There comes a point where you realise that answering yes to any of the questions above amounts to gross self-neglect and disrespecting the person you are meant to be — for yourself, your family, your friends and the world.

Why can’t someone else just tell me what to do?

It is not worth giving up what money cannot buy to gain what you cannot take to heaven with you.

It is not worth giving up your health to please those who will simply use you and cast you aside when you’re worn out. It’s not worth giving up everything that life could be, just because it’s easier. You will end up feeling suffocated, gasping for something in your life that has more substance. And you will realise that you are the one who allowed yourself to drown in things that don’t matter as much as you may have thought.

Decide what you want because you’ll get more joy out of your life. Take ownership of what you want, because it’s no one else’s fault if you let someone else govern your time, your future, your health and your peace.

What you can have if YOU decide

You can decide what you want AND make a difference. You can decide which values, principles and practical uses of your time will guard your peace of mind.


You can figure out how to be yourself AND be okay with the consequences, even if it takes a bit of time. You are meant to BE someone, and that does not necessarily mean looking like a Hollywood star, a perfect model or a shiny, corporate hot-shot.

How to decide what you want

It’s your life, decide what you want to do with it, no matter what circumstances you are in. Make plans, go out, ask people questions, do research, try new experiences. Meet new people and ask them about their ideas and the way they think. Ask about their dreams. Explore new activities and you may discover a hidden talent or two. You won’t know if you don’t try.

You can choose to try something new, even though you are afraid. Feeling afraid to decide doesn’t have to stop you from taking a step forward. It’s always more fun if you can get someone to try something new with you, but often it’s just as liberating to go on your own.

The point is to choose something you want to do, to say, to try or to change. And DO it. If you don’t like the new thing you’re trying out, or it’s not working out for you, that’s okay. It’s not failure. It just means you’ve figured something out and you’re that much closer to discovering something else that DOES work out for you. Start small, if you like. Decide what you want when you eat out. Choose something different from time to time. Decide what you like and what you don’t like.

After food, you can do this with bigger things — what do and don’t you want from your work, your relationships, friends, family and your future? What do you want to let go of so that you can move forward? What is the payoff for staying miserable? What can you do to overcome the circumstances you cannot change?

Why does it matter what you want?

It matters because you weren’t just meant to follow orders your whole life. You are meant to be creative, to bring what is uniquely you to the world. What you want matters, but only if you value your own decisions. It matters when you say it does, even if no one else cares.

Here’s another piece of reassurance I discovered a few years ago — people are not nearly as observant about every detail of your appearance, what you do or what you like, as you think. They have their own worries, cares, work and family dramas on their minds.

If anything, try to think of someone who may quietly notice the personal freedoms you are claiming and take courage and inspiration for themselves from it. That’s making a difference before you’ve even set out to do something specific!

Your decision does not have to be perfect.

There is room for mistakes, but there’s also room for success. You won’t get the fun of having ridiculous stories and/or amazing stories without venturing something!


Here are some of the things I want:

I want to travel again.

I want to do different classes of creative activities I haven’t done before.

I want to finish writing a novel by the end of the year.

I want to try doing some photoshoots for fun.

I want to have a mud fight sometime (even though mud freaks me out a little).

I want to ride an elephant.

I want to cheer up a seriously sick person.

I want to swim with dolphins (I’m not a good swimmer, but dolphins can help with that!)

I want to dye my hair purple — just once in my life.


What are your thoughts on the above? What keeps you from being a more decisive person in any area of your life? Please share in the comments below, and don’t forget to like, share and follow!


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