Top 15 difficult decisions that keep Brits awake at night


Authored by Aviva

  • New research from Aviva reveals that getting divorced/ending a long-term relationship (31%) and buying a new home (29%) are life’s most difficult decisions
  • Brits lose almost £231 billion in a year, on average, due to being indecisive
  • More than a quarter (26%) of Brits find decision-making difficult due to financial pressures 
  • To help tackle this, the leading insurer has partnered with Katie Piper and behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings to launch the Aviva Decision School, a free online teaching academy that trains people to defeat indecision and move forward in their lives

New research from leading insurer Aviva reveals that Brits lose almost 43 nights’ sleep a yearworrying about making the right decision, the equivalent of an astounding 17 billion hoursof lost sleep amongst UK adults.

To help the nation tackle its indecisiveness, Aviva has partnered with Katie Piper and behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings to launch the “Aviva Decision School” – an online teaching academy that trains people to overcome hesitancy to make decisions and life changes more easily and with confidence.

When it comes to life’s most difficult choices, getting divorced/ending a long-term relationship tops the list (31%); followed by buying a new home (29%) and relocating to a new country (27%). Others include changing job or career (27%), getting married (25%) and having/adopting a child (21%).  

Almost a third of Brits put off making a big commitment due to difficulty trusting their instincts.

The emotional process of making a big decision can be daunting, with almost half of Brits (49%) feeling anxious when doing so; more than two-fifths (43%) getting stressed, and almost a third (32%) feeling overwhelmed.

In fact, three fifths of Brits (60%) admit to putting off making a big decision, with almost a fifth (19%) doing so often, and 16% delaying decisions very often. Deciding when to retire is the decision Brits take the longest time over, taking on average 10 months and 7 days.

The Aviva Decision School is a free course available to the public. It is designed to help people learn the art of confident decision-making and break free from the shackles of procrastination as they grapple with the everyday and life-changing choices they have to make in their lives.

The curriculum of lessons and guidance covers a range of different areas specially targeted at how to make life choices with ease, including overcoming any related anxiety, making decisions under pressure, and trusting one’s instincts.

Almost a third of Brits put off making a big commitment due to difficulty trusting their instincts (32%); 24% delay as they overcome anxiety related to a particular decision, and 17% feel that they don’t have the right tools or expertise available to them.

Brits estimate they lose £421 a year due to being indecisive.

The choices we make have a big impact on our lives, including financially. On average, Brits estimate they lose £421 a year due to being indecisive, with 35–44-year-olds losing the most (£506). In fact, almost a fifth of Brits (19%) believe they’ve lost over £500 in a year due to being hesitant.

More than one in 10 respondents (11%) have missed out on a job offer due to procrastinating, whilst 7% have missed out on buying a home or have had to buy a more expensive one as a result.

Alongside Katie Piper and behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings, the Aviva Decision School includes inspiring and practical advice and insights from a range of expert decision-makers from different fields:

  • Leroy Logan MBE – Former superintendent in the Metropolitan Police and founding member and former chairman of the Black Police Association. Logan was involved in the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and the inquiry into the killing of Damilola Taylor.
  • Vanessa O’Brien – Mountaineer, explorer, author, and former business executive. In 2020, O'Brien became the first woman to reach Earth's highest and lowest points, receiving a Guinness World Record.

Raj Kumar, Corporate Reputation Director at Aviva, said: “Our research shows that the majority of us struggle with decision-making at various stages of our lives and, as a result, we Brits are no strangers to procrastination. We know the last 18 months have really made a lot of people rethink their priorities, which has led to some challenging decision-making.

"That’s why it felt like just the right time for us to launch the Aviva Decision School with Katie and Jo - to help the nation tackle its issues with indecision and provide people with the practical tools they need to make decisions with ease.”

Behavioural Psychologist, Jo Hemmings, said: “Making decisions – and avoiding them – can have a huge impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing, as well as our relationships, finances and a host of other factors. It’s natural for many of us to feel overwhelmed when it comes to life’s more difficult decisions. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to be alone in making them. The Aviva Decision School addresses a host of topics, from overcoming anxiety or procrastination, to dealing with pressure and trusting your instincts.”

Author, Philanthropist & Presenter, Katie Piper, said: “Life can bring many opportunities and challenges, which are sometimes difficult to navigate. Being part of the Aviva Decision School has been a wonderful opportunity and has allowed me to reflect on decisions I’ve made throughout my life and professional career. It’s been a pleasure to work alongside Aviva, Jo and our inspiring decision makers to share advice and help instil confidence in decision-making.”

To find out more about the Aviva Decision School and view the first suite of tools, visit:

The top 15 most difficult decisions to make

  1. Getting divorced or ending a long-term relationship - 31%
  2. Buying a new home - 29%
  3. Relocating to a new country - 27%
  4. Changing job or career – 27%
  5. Getting married – 25%
  6. Having or adopting a child – 21%
  7. Moving in with a partner – 20%
  8. Relocating to new city – 20%
  9. Caring for a family member – 19%
  10. Where to invest money – 15%
  11. Deciding when to retire – 13%
  12. Choosing a pension – 10%
  13. School choices – 8%
  14. Pursuing further education & choosing a degree (or deciding not to do so) – 8%
  15. Getting a pet – 7%

The life decisions Brits spend the most time procrastinating over (on average, in months)

  1. Deciding when to retire – 10 months, 7 days
  2. Getting married – 8 months, 29 days
  3. Getting divorced or ending a long-term relationship – 8 months, 26 days
  4. Relocating to a new country – 7 months, 14 days
  5. Having or adopting a child – 7 months, 4 days
  6. Buying a new home (house/flat) – 6 months, 29 days
  7. Changing job or career – 6 months, 28 days
  8. Moving in with a partner – 6 months, 9 days
  9. Relocating to new city – 6 months, 2 days
  10. Choosing a pension – 5 months, 19 days
  11. Pursuing further education and choosing a degree – 5 months, 12 days
  12. Getting a pet – 5 months
  13. School choices – 4 months, 19 days
  14. Where to invest money – 4 months, 13 days
  15. Caring for a family member – 4 months, 6 days

The top reasons why those who think decision making is hardest at a particular age find decision-making difficult.

  1. Uncertainty about the future – 46% 
  2. Their general life experience – 39% 
  3. People don't know what they want/need – 35% 
  4. Financial pressure – 35% 
  5. Family commitments – 25% 
  6. People are short of time to do research – 15%


About Aviva

Aviva Insurance Limited is one of the UK’s leading insurance companies, part of the Aviva group with 34 million customers Worldwide. Aviva Insurance has been in the insurance business for more than 300 years.

In UK commercial, the insurance market remains challenging for insurance brokers and customers, due to the ongoing economic conditions. Aviva Insurance are focusing on improving our processes to ensure Aviva provide commercial customers with insurance cover at an acceptable price. Insurance brokers also recognised our excellent customer service by voting us Insurance Times General Insurer of the Year in 2012, for the second year running. youTalk-insurance sharing Aviva insurance news and video.

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