Oh boy! I feel like celebrating! Ryan and I just booked our flights for an upcoming overseas adventure in April! Naturally, the trip itself gives us plenty of reasons to celebrate. The first portion of our journey will take us to Rwanda, where we will spend around two weeks partnering with some amazing friends of ours in their mission work in the city of Kigali. After our time in Rwanda, we will fly to Israel where we will meet up with Ryan’s dad and spend a week or two taking in the beauty and deeply historical sites this nation has to offer.
But the thing is, we have been planning this trip for a long time. In fact, we were approved for the time off work all the way back in the second week of January! In all truth, this trip has been in the works for quite a while. So right now, the trip itself is not actually what I’m celebrating. Right now I am simply celebrating the fact that our tickets are booked!
See, here’s the thing… it was my job to book the tickets. If you are an extreme perfectionist who also happens to struggle with chronic anxiety, booking flights for an overseas trip is phenomenally overwhelming! Do you know how many possibilities there are?! I have literally been procrastinating for SIX WEEKS. Every time I would sit down to work on this “project,” I would be barraged by a flood of thoughts and ideas on how to do it right. But it never seemed to work out the way I wanted it to in my head!
Nothing I tried made it easier. I employed spreadsheets, notepapers, and every relevant website on the internet, but still found myself at a standstill. It was just too stressful! What if I booked the wrong flight? What if I was missing a flight that could get us there quicker? What if I booked a flight today and then found a cheaper option tomorrow? What if I end up hating the airline I book with? What if, what if, what if!
I was paralyzed by the possibilities (and not to mention the other travel-related fears that were spinning around in the back of my mind… but we’ll talk about those another time). And as I took my sweet time deciding, not only did the prices increase, but the more overwhelming it seemed to become. See, the thing is that anxiety breeds indecision, and indecision breeds anxiety.
There are so many times in life that we face massive, life altering decisions—decisions that are much more consequential than a flight that saves you a few hours or a couple hundred dollars. For someone who struggles with mental illness, these decisions can be debilitating. It’s hard enough to decide what to wear in the morning or which restaurant you want to eat at, never mind what to do after high school or whether or not to accept that job offer in a new city.
And if you’re anything like me, you will procrastinate. You will procrastinate for a good, long time, because you won’t be able to address every tiny little problem and fear that your mind is telling you must be addressed before you can make your next move.
But the thing is that if you procrastinate forever, you will miss out. There are consequences to procrastination. I ended up paying more for my flights than I would have if I had just booked them six weeks ago. Or even two weeks ago! But the consequences could have been even worse. If I had procrastinated forever, I could have simply missed my window of opportunity and ruined my chances of going at all.
At the end of the day, I had to ask for help. I came clean with Ryan and admitted that I was really struggling to accomplish the task. I asked him if he could sit down with me and just help me pick some flights. In the end, we may not have settled on the “perfect” option. But we settled, and that is what matters.
So here is my little piece of encouragement for today. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are facing a big decision in life (or even a small one that seems gargantuan to you), and you are struggling to approach it rationally because of your anxiety and fears, get real with someone and ask for help. Tell them how and why you are struggling. Open up about the things that are causing you distress about this decision. Don’t be ashamed—whoever it is that you decide to ask for help is realistically someone who loves you and cares about what you are going through. Ask them to give you their unbiased opinions and to help you take a reasonable, balanced look at the facts so that you can make a wise choice.
Just don’t keep on procrastinating forever. If you do, you will certainly miss out. There are so many amazing experiences in life, waiting for you to seize them. Don’t allow the cycle of anxiety and indecision to hold you back for one more day. Instead, find someone you trust who can help you look at the situation objectively, make a decision, and then move on. Oh… and make sure that once the final decision is made… you take some time to celebrate!
Do you struggle with indecision anxiety? Do you get overwhelmed by the possibilities and find yourself in an endless state of procrastination? How do get out of that cycle? Who helps you address the mess with a sense of balance and reason? Leave me a comment and share your thoughts!