Have you ever made a decision and thought “I should have done that a while ago”? Most of us have. Then we have regrets, maybe even question our judgment in the future, thereby undermining our confidence.

Why is this so common in our shared experience? I think fear of the unknown is at the root of it. Your amygdala, the reptilian part of your brain responsible for the fight, flight, freeze or appease response, is always scanning your environment for threats. Change can occur like a threat and drives up fear. When the neurochemicals of fear are coursing through our system, our ability to make sound decisions and use our executive functions diminishes. Thus, when faced with deciding to make a big change, we often deal with doubt and wait too long. In other words, we hold on to the way things are, even when they are not what we want.

In my experience with my clients, this has caused angst; it has cost money, time and opportunities. When we bear the cost of this indecision, we have regrets. Obviously, the point of this is to make a decision… to KNOW when to stay (or act) and KNOW when to go (or act). I can share story after story, and today I will share just one.

I had a client who worked for a manager that was verbally abusive and made her question her abilities. She just kept trying to please her boss. No matter what she did, the boss would find something else wrong. She lost sleep, worried all the time. She finally started looking for another job. After lots of coaching on her confidence, she took another position. What she discovered is that she was competent and actually quite good. She loved her job and began to love her life again.

She discovered it was simply a bad fit. Her communication style and her boss’s communication style were in conflict. She did not know how to adapt. She was in a no-win situation. In her new position, she had a good job fit with a boss whose style she understood and could work with. She realized she stayed in the earlier job way too long and it had cost her dearly. She made a pact with herself to stop tolerating when things do not work, and either be in an action and alter the situation or leave.

I, too, have stuck it out when I am not happy and have tried and tried to change the situation and later had regrets. Never again. Acting confidently alters your life.

Here are the steps I recommend when you find yourself unhappy in a situation over time:

  1. Ask yourself, “What am I tolerating, or trying to change and am ineffective at doing so?”
  2. List out what it is costing you – money, time, peace of mind, relationships, career growth, etc. Be honest with yourself.
  3. Write out what actions you can take to alter the situation. Take those actions.
  4. If you deal with doubting your decision, ask yourself what you are afraid of. Then ask yourself, if the worst happened (if your fear came true), would you survive? Then take action.

The only thing that will change your unhappiness or dissatisfaction is action. You can do it. Stop tolerating and start acting!