What Happens When You Do Not Make a Decision?

Why confronting the unknown can help us

Darren Matthews
7 min readAug 4, 2022


Photo by Erik Odiinon Unsplash

Michelle Obama said, “You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.”

The irony of this statement is it’s an explanation we take to heart. When we sense uncertainty, we hold back from deciding. We expect more information will appear and give us the confidence to choose. We want the certainty of knowing the choice we’re about to make is the right one. Time will clear the mist, like the heater blowing warm air on the car window.

Except it won’t.

Michelle is still right, but what you can’t do is let the fear and an unknown future stop you from deciding. What happens when you do not make a decision is other forces get the chance to decide for you. It is this unspoken element that much of this article will focus on.


Quite simply, there is so much advice on how to make decisions. This website shares many of the lessons on decision-making I’ve learnt in my life. You see we are quick to focus on the upsides of a decision. We like to feel like we’re in control and being decisive is one way to gain control.

Bizarrely, not deciding, is, itself a decision.

We forget this truth because it makes us uncomfortable. The loss of control fades from our minds as we internally argue time will bring the information we need to act decisively. Life offers us a series of trade-offs, and waiting to decide is no different. So before we look to understand the dangers of not deciding, we first need to see why decisions get left unmade.

What are you Waiting For?

Here’s the crucial thing about waiting: it never brings more clarity.

It is the point we conveniently overlook when we don’t decide. Of course, it is the most common reason we give for not deciding. Waiting often gives you less information, not more. Certainties change. Nothing stays the same. The facts will evolve with time. The fluidity of life and the complex interactions it creates is a point we struggle to grasp.

The certainty we crave can’t be found by waiting.



Darren Matthews

I’m utterly curious about decision-making | Sharing lessons learned from the thousands of decisions I’ve studied and made | Founder https://www.resolve.blog