Friday, September 3, 2010

Entry 84: Conquering Indecision


Being decisive is one of the hardest things to be in life.  Every day we are faced with a multitude of choices to make, big and small. Many of you, I know, find yourself paralyzed with indecision on a daily basis.  From making career or relationship moves to deciding where to eat dinner, the "tyranny of choice" has too many of us in thrall.

I have a way out for you! (ps this blog automatically italicized this.  Is it growing an awareness? Weird.)

For most of us the problem with making decisions comes down to the pressure of making a "right" decision and avoiding the consequences of making a "wrong" decision.  We require absolute surety (or close to) before we can proceed confidently down any decision path, and even then we can't help but wonder what was behind door #2. 

Just go ahead and try to be decisive.  Try it.  Give up yet?  Yeah, it's not easy.  But I have an exercise that can help you.

Instead of viewing a decision as one part, let's divide it in two.  On the one side we'll put 'the ability to make a decision quickly' and on the other we'll put 'the quality of the decision'.  This gives us:

Fast                             Good

Slow                            Bad

Breaking it up this way we can see that you have 4 outcomes:

1. A fast decision that is good
2. A fast decision that is bad
3. A slow decision that is good
4. A slow decision that is bad


My radical proposal to you is this: let go of the good/bad side for a while!  Seriously, let it go.  Don't go out of your way to make bad decision, but actively try to detach yourself from the outcomes of each decision you make.

Instead, focus on making a fast decision.  Decide in your mind instantly what you are going to do, and then stick with the outcome no matter what.  Chase the rabbit all the way down the hole and never surrender unless you are absolutely required to do so.  Even if it is a terrible decision that you just can't make work, then you'll know, right?! 

I promise you that you will be liberated if you take this approach.  The eventual goal, of course, is to make good decisions as quickly as possible.  But for most of us the hangup isn't on the quality of our decisions (which studies show rarely improve through more time, attention, and thought) but rather the speed of our decision making.

Try it.  For dinner tonight.  Let me know how it works!

Preemptive: you're welcome!

Caleb "the decider" Shreves


  1. I'm liking this alot.

    Seems like overthinking has brought alot of really bad things recently. Fast is the way to go!

  2. Shreves,

    What about the multitudes of other factors that go into making a decision? What about considering how your decisions will effect your long term plans? Or, how your decision will effect those you care for?

    Chase the rabbit all you like, but remember that the rabbit hole narrows at certain points.
    I'm not disagreeing that overthinking can be as hazardous as haste when making a decission, but thoughtlessness is almost always a sure-fire way to cause pain.

    Case and point: The golfcart and your lawn chairs. IF I'd really taken more care in my decission making, I would have probably decided not to allow Cledus and Trav to accompany me to your house, and you would still have fully intact lawn chairs. (BTW, we will be buying you new ones.)

  3. Kimberly-

    I think you're missing the thrust of my proposal. Weighing the factors of your decisions and their inevitable consequences is important; but it also becomes debilitating for most people as they mull, mull, and more mull over their choice forever.

    Might as well get good at the speed of your decisions! At least that way you're improving in some manner.

    You, conversely, have the 'snap-decision' part down. I would recommend for you to work on the quality portion of decision making- especially in regard to unintended consequences.

    "I've decided to go into Caleb's house and rearrange furniture. Should I invite the drunkest, craziest people I know along and assume that they will behave and not poop in his litter box or put toilets on his roof?"

    Glad you thought through the consequences of that one...

    "I've been entrusted with responsibility for the bar's golf cart... should I take the drunkest, craziest people I know along and go driving through the neighborhood?" Snap decision- yes!

    See, you make decisions quickly enough. Just not always the most practical ones.

    And no, I swear, I did not leave a kitten in your house.

  4. I know you didn't leave the kitten.

    As for my snap decisions. They aren't quite as ill-planned as you're making them out to be.

    The prank on your house might seem like a snap decision if you leave out the facts.
    Fact 1: Your house was going to get pranked with or without my participation.
    Fact 2: The other pranksters rarely make plans and generally "wing it" when it comes to pranks. The litter box incident is only a small example of the type of destruction that can arise when that group is left unsupervised.
    Fact 3: I organized and kept your things from being damaged or stolen when we pranked your house.
    Fact 4: YOU gave Ginger permission to throw an "afties" at your place which is when and where the destruction, gross and out of control pranking actually took place. None of which was my doing or even my instigating.

    Not quite as much of as snap decision as you have been accusing me of.

    As for the golf cart, there was no inviting Cledus or PBR. They pretty much just took over.