Difficult Decisions

I’m normally someone to make decisions in a heartbeat, stick with them and generally speaking, fare rather well with that approach. I have a number of friends though, who labor – endlessly it seems – over decisions and just can’t make up their minds. And, lately, I have found myself doing quite a bit of back and forth about some decisions as well. So, I have asked myself: What kind of decisions are that and why are they so difficult.

You’d think the most difficult decisions are those where there is a lot at stake and some options will lead to very good or very bad outcomes. And that is indeed what it feels like while you’re investigating al the pros and cons and trying to figure out which option will kill you.

But… take a step back and have another look and you’ll find out that while most of these questions are indeed about very important issues, the paralysis often stems from the fact that none of the options is optimal and none is detrimental. The results will be so-so-ok, no matter which one you choose. And the fact that in a lot of the crucial life decisions you could (after eliminating some really bad options) basically flip a coin, drives us so crazy that we rather go into overdrive trying to find the one argument that tells us why one solution is the “right” one.

So, the next time you can’t make up your mind for the life of you, just consider that it might be because all options are similarly good/bad, pick one and get going.

Two afterthoughts:
1. These kinds of decisions (important issues but many so-so-ok options) tend to be the ones that some people start fighting crusades for after finally making up their minds – as a way of convincing themselves and others in the face of insecurity that on this very important issue they did the right thing.

2. Often the really crucial decision in these cases is between making up your mind and doing something on the one hand and continuing to obsess and doing nothing on the other. So, ironically, in the frantic search for all the last facts to make sure you really do the right thing, you might be making the one possible bad decision – delaying action till it’s too late.

(Picture by Loriot)

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