In my last post, I expressed the importance of listening to your intuition and going with your gut. You might agree that the flipside of gut-based decision making is analysis paralysis. So, if you are continually dipping your big toe to test the waters and avoiding taking the plunge, take a step back from what appears to be wildly uncertain waters and ask why?
Do you ever wonder how some people can be so impulsive and, quite frequently, their decisions have little to no consequences, yet others experience severe repercussions? Think about the highly publicized risk takers of our time such as Donald Trump, who has seen his ups and downs yet always appears to come out smelling like a rose. Or you may know someone personally who has hold of the lucky horseshoe. Successful outcomes sometime lie in your attitude but even educated risks can end in disaster no matter how much research you may do. So, how to you walk the fine line between doing your homework and paralyzing yourself in analyzing data, facts and reviews; talking with friends and colleagues; and endless, endless hours of thinking and thinking and more thinking? You’ll never be able to map out every scenario as a result of your decision, but you can at least plan for some of them. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What problem am I trying to solve? If you are making a decision about the best place to live or work, or even about staying with or walking away from a significant other, ask yourself what problem will a “go/no go” decision solve.
2. What’s the worst that could happen? There’s the actual and perceived risk of any decision. Perceived risk many times has to do with knowing whether or not we are being true to ourselves. If you are resisting your intuition when it’s telling you that your decision feels good or bad, you may need to look deeper inside yourself and understand your motivations. Again, you can never map out every potential consequence, positive or negative, actual or perceived; make your pros and cons list to help guide your decision.
3. What are you afraid of? Fear of failure, success, unhappiness, and financial loss are all real fears. But doing nothing may also be a risk. Indecision is a decision. You may ask yourself how a lack of action will affect your life. Or are you unwilling to change and, if you do, what are the positive and negative consequences? The “what ifs” will stifle you in the long run and there are no guarantees.
4. Can you accept all of the outcomes that may result from taking a risk? Most likely your decision’s consequences will be satisfactory, which most people can accept. But what if the outcome is outstanding? I think we all can handle outstanding. Dismal is something we never want from any decision but we have to accept that it’s always a possibility. At that point, it’s an opportunity to practice resilience and, once again, to perform another problem solving exercise that will help you grow and be better for it. Either way, don’t set yourself up to fail by waiting for the other shoe to drop because it will.
5. Do you have a timeline? If possible, give yourself a timeline as to when your decision needs to be made. Trust me…the lightning bolt will not miraculously strike if you don’t. Some decisions have indisputable timelines when it comes to an ailing parent, a recent medical issue or employer-imposed job relocation. We won’t always have the luxury of time; however, analysis paralysis kicks in when you have too much time. If you don’t have a timeline, ask yourself “If I had to make a decision today, what would it be? “ If you can’t answer that question, give yourself a little more time but letting it go too long could be harmful to your health, be stressful on you and others around you, and keep you in a holding pattern for longer than necessary. In the meantime, life is passing you by. Think about taking a risk and being able to say, “Boy, I’m glad I made that decision sooner than later.” At the same time, it is okay to say to yourself, “Now is not the time to be making this decision” and table it for another time. Lifting that off of your shoulders may give you room to make decisions that you are ready to make.
Take the plunge!!