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  • Posted July 30, 2018

Analysis Paralysis

We are often our own worst enemy. Too often I’ve had to sit by and watch people refuse to take action because they either feel they don’t have enough information or they can’t get off the fence of what the best course of action to take is – they’re afraid of what they’ll give up.

I don’t think I need to tell anyone this is no way to live – we’ve all seen what happens to squirrels on the road. No – I’m not implying our lives will have an equally tragic ending, but I unequivocally believe failing to make a choice is a choice, you’re choosing to be indecisive and ultimately missing out on ALL alternatives.

Trust yourself; or, if you have a past of poor judgment, build a circle of confidantes and trust their input (but they cannot and SHOULD NOT make the decision for you). It’s “old school”, but I believe it works – draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper, and label the side pro’s/con’s for each choice. Write it out, and don’t use one or two words to describe – instead take some time to really journal what excites/concerns you given the choice(s) you face. Train your brain to think these things through.

Most importantly, don’t look back after you’ve made your choice. This is where people develop a habit of second-guessing themselves; because they think the choice they didn’t make would have turned out so much better. In my experience this is incredibly difficult to quantify, because if you’d had the same information which is telling you the choice would have been better when you originally made the choice, it’s very likely that is the path you would’ve gone down. Since you didn’t, I think it’s safe to say you made the BEST choice given facts on hand.

Waiting to get more information can be dangerous, and how do you “know” when enough is enough? I will admit I may trust my gut too much, but over the years I’ve grown comfortable making decisions with very little information – sometimes the information just isn’t out there to be had; and other opportunities would’ve been missed I never would have known about.

It’s not “bad” to need a lot of information to make a decision, it’s when you don’t know yourself well enough to say how much is enough. For example, researchers are critical for the progress of medicine and technology; but if they don’t move their hypotheses into application then are they really helping?

Some ideas I’ve seen help others include: checklists, the pro’s/con’s list and eliminating smaller choices to free up bandwidth. For example, I hang my dress clothes in such a way I don’t need to think about what to wear – I just grab the next dress shirt and pants hanging in the closet. When I put them away I make sure they match. This is a very small choice (for some), but it frees up bandwidth – and there are a LOT of these little things you can do, so when the big choice(s) occur you are ready.


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