The Pandemic Sabotaged Our Decision-Making Abilities—Here’s How to Start Regaining That Self-Confidence

UPDATED: May 7, 2024
PUBLISHED: May 9, 2022
The Pandemic Sabotaged Our Decision-Making Abilities—Here's How to Start Regaining That Self-Confidence

My parents had booked a cruise to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. It was scheduled to depart in April 2020. You won’t be surprised to learn that this particular love boat was rebooked for 2021. And then rebooked again for 2022.

So here I was, in January 2022, witnessing a heated verbal crossfire the likes of which I’d never heard from two people about to celebrate 40 years of happy matrimony.

Should we go? Should we not? Will people wear masks? Will they actually be vaxxed? Well what did Jill and John decide? What if we go and we get stuck on the boat? Or sick with some weird variant? Should we just cancel it? What about our deposit? What will we do instead? Will THAT be safe?!

Whether it’s an anniversary vacation, a birthday trip, an annual convention or a trip home for the holidays that’s been continuously wiped off our calendars, we’ve all experienced having our decision-making power effectively paused.

Constant risk assessment, disordered routines and daily moving targets influencing even the most basic of decisions means that, for many of us, every small decision suddenly feels more than intimidating; it feels exhausting. According to a 2021 study by the American Psychological Association, nearly one-third of adults (32%) are so stressed about the coronavirus pandemic that they struggle to make basic decisions, such as what to wear or eat.

With the ground under our feet constantly shifting and the rules being rewritten on a weekly or even daily basis, many of us suffer the side effects of constant uncertainty. Luckily, there’s an underutilized trait we can all dust off to help us wrangle back our pre-pandemic decision-making proficiency: audacity.

What if a little audacity is exactly what we need to restore our confidence in our choices and reignite trust in ourselves? The next time you struggle with making decisions, try one of these five audacity activators to override your pandemic paralysis and step back into your decision-making mastery.

Face Your Fake-News Fears

Often, what we are afraid of is a false narrative that is neither true nor helpful in sustaining forward momentum. The next time you’re spiraling from dread, objectively look at your reasons. Are these objective facts or subjective feelings? Making a list of facts vs. feelings is more effective than pros and cons to empower your assertiveness and avoid your next sticky scenario.

Ghost Your Inner Good Kid

In more normal times, being the kid who follows the rules meant rewards for good behavior. But when the rules are a moving target that change daily, and the rulemakers don’t have a clear road map, sometimes it’s better to authorize yourself to make your own decisions.

Become a Bad Listener

We’ve all heard the age-old accolades bestowed on the world’s best listeners. But in a world where we’re subjected to constant digital inputs that impact our real-life outputs, sometimes listening can be lethal. Marie Kondo your newsfeed by unfollowing those untrustworthy sources and anxiety exacerbators.

Feel Jealous to Find Genius

We’re taught to believe that jealousy is a toxic emotion to be avoided at all costs. And yes, unhealthy comparison will zap you of joy. But healthy competition isn’t the same as unhealthy comparison. Paying attention to those little pangs of “good job them, now let’s go me” can be a powerful clarifier to help you tune into the decisions that, deep down, you truly want to make. The green monster, when leveraged strategically, can sometimes be your greatest guide.

Cape Up so You Don’t Cop Out

In these tumultuous times, many of us have had moments of doubt that we didn’t experience pre-pandemic. When we find ourselves insecure about our intuition, uncertain how to proceed, it’s in these moments we need to cape up. Can you borrow someone else’s superpower as a bridge to help you take the first step? Caping up doesn’t mean pretending to be someone else, or attempting to copy someone else, but instead means simply looking around at your network, observing those you feel are moving forward with smart choices that make sense to you, and channeling their clarity.

In times of chaos, you don’t have to doubt yourself. You also don’t have to take the same tired advice you’ve always thought was the best guidance. You can think, feel and act audaciously; you can reignite your momentum using your audacity—even if the one you’re sometimes shocking the most is you. 

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2022 Issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo by @galinkazhi/Twenty20

Erin King is the bestselling author of “You’re Kind of a Big Deal: Level Up by Unlocking Your Audacity” and “Digital Persuasion: Sell Smarter in the Modern Marketplace.” She’s also the Chief Social Officer at Strikepoint Media, a digital marketing firm focused on social customer acquisition. But hands down, her toughest job is being a personal full-time assistant to a 13-pound cavapoo puppy named Betty White. You can connect with her on Instagram @mrs.erin.king