The trap of indecision and how to get out of it

21 May, 2015

Have you ever heard this story about the trap of indecision?

A donkey has two stacks of hay in front of him. But he can’t decide which one to eat from. He stands there, indecisive, for so long that he ends up dying of hunger.

And while this story is very simplified, you see my point, right?

The trap of indecision is a real problem

Did you notice? It can happen while shopping for a perfect rug. Or deciding what to cook for dinner. Hell, it can even happen in the most important areas of your personal life (should I take this job or the other?, should I date this person or wait for someone else to come along?). It seems like no area of our lives can escape the trap of indecision.

But when you can’t decide what you want, you’re in trouble. Very often the truth is that postponing the moment when you will choose is actually worse than either of the choices.

Think of it this way:

You’re walking to the bank and you have two routes to get there. As you approach the crossroads where the roads split and you’ve got to decide which one to take, you stop. You then proceed to stand there and start analysing:

Is one of them going to be shorter? Which one has nicer views along the way? Would picking one of them help me get something else done on the way? Do I wear the right shoes to go through the park shortcut on the route B?

Questioning every decision stops you from moving forward

Making a choice NOW, on the other hand, is a catalyst for more things to happen. Because if you don’t stop on the way to the bank and just keep the momentum going, you won’t waste your time and energy on overthinking little details. And you actually stand a chance of arriving at the bank before it closes.

Yeah, they do close at some point, let’s not forget that. And even though we seem to remember that about banks, what about other choices? What will you miss out on if you don’t decide?

Be clear on what you want to achieve.

Very often we loose the momentum because we get distracted. And sure, getting distracted is a big subject on its own, especially in this modern world where our attention span (especially online) is getting shorter in front of our eyes. But we can stop this spiral of random distractions if we focus for long enough to decide on the end goal.

Ask the right question (aka gate number three).

Sometime the question is not Do I like A or B more?

Sometimes, what you’ve got to ask yourself is this: does either A or B bring me closer to my end goal? Or am I actually waiting for C to come along so that I can achieve my goal? Is there a third option that you’re hoping will show up?

Deciding to choose neither is also a decision

What you’ve got to understand is that in the choice between one way to the bank and another, there is a hidden third gate. You can decide that the errand you had to go to the bank for was not really that urgent, and that since it’s so beautiful outside and the sun is shining, you’re going to go for a walk and enjoy your afternoon. The important part is that you’re no longer standing at the crossroads, thinking things over and over… and over again.

“Done” is the engine of more

Once you free up the mental space of obsessing about a decision, you can go on and enjoy your life. (The sarcastic part inside me screams: what a concept!) Or… you can just go and make more decisions.

Because there’s nothing worse for getting us stuck and making us unproductive than going round in circles not knowing what to decide. (CLICK TO TWEET) Twitter birdy

And the opposite is true: once you make your decision, you free up time and energy to do more. To make progress. To keep going towards that end goal.

If neither of the choices feels right to you, and yes, I am talking to you, because I’m sure you too have some undecided things going on on the back burner, then maybe it’s just not the time for you to decide it yet? Once you’ll know, you’ll know. So you might as well stop worrying (or should I say obsessing) about it.

And if you’re thinking about where to go on holiday? I think it’s safe to say that wherever you choose to go, you will have some great experiences and will bring back home some wonderful memories. That is, if you make your choice soon enough. :) Because otherwise, you might just end up staying at home with a glass half full of… regret.

Have you ever had a problem deciding between your choices and getting stuck in the trap of indecision? What was the one strategy or piece of advice that helped you the most? Leave a comment below.

And if you think that any of your friends could benefit from having made a decision already, then I’d be grateful if you could share it with them below.

Have a great and very decisive week,

Kat xx - signature 150px

the trap of indecision Kat Bern

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