The Key to Turning Analysis Paralysis into Easy Decision-Making
I remember reading a statistic once about how many decisions teachers make in a day. And while I’ve since forgotten the statistic, I haven’t forgotten my reaction to it…which was “wow, no wonder I’m tired and NEVER want to make decisions about where to go to dinner!” And yes, that was back in my days as a classroom teacher, so it resonated with me at the time. But I find that it’s NOT just teachers who spend their days making split-second decisions; it’s ALL of us.
Think about it. On any given day, you’re making decisions from the start: Do I get up or hit snooze? What route should I take to work? What time should I eat lunch? Is this the right way to phrase this email/text/social media post? What do I make for dinner? Do I have time to run a quick errand? Should I stay up late to finish xyz?
Get the picture?
Our life is basically a series of decisions separated by the actions they require. And what’s interesting is, we often don’t realize that we’re even making decisions! Then when we do, we’re focused on making GOOD ones…which most of us define as avoiding “bad” decisions that are accompanied by negative consequences. But I’d like to challenge that perspective a bit. What if instead of focusing on whether a decision was a good or bad one, we focused on whether it was RIGHT for us. Because while yes, there are some choices that are considered universally bad (doing things that are detrimental to our physical or mental well-being, for example), there are MANY choices that are really best determined by their alignment to who we are, what we value, and what our goals are. So rather than exploring choices as good or bad, what if we start looking at it through the lens of “Is this the right choice for me?”
I was on a call with a client when the focus of our conversation suddenly shifted. She had started with wanting to talk about growing her business, as she had taken some time away and lost focus. She knew she needed to take some concrete actions to get things moving in the right direction, so our conversations had started there. But as we talked, it became clear to me that we were having two different conversations; one was around revitalizing her business, while the other was about creating opportunities for her to be marketable to prospective employers. As a coach, I knew that this seeming disconnect was a sign that there were some “bigger picture” issues to explore, so that’s where the shift happened.
It turns out that while she loved her business, she knew the level of time and energy she needed to invest in order to make it profitable in the way she needed. And she had decided that there were other, more pressing things that needed her time and energy and that, quite frankly, were more important to her! So our conversation took a dramatic turn….and it was as a result of her evaluating her choices through the lens of her values. It was a powerful moment for me to see how a seemingly “good” idea can actually be the WRONG idea if it’s out of alignment with the person making it.
And sometimes, all it takes to see the difference is to stop and ask ourselves what resonates!
I remember the first time I created an “official” document for my business that had my photo on it. As someone who didn’t (and still doesn’t) use professional branding photos, my options were limited to photos I had in my collection…and the choices were slim pickings! I went back and forth with myself over my top 2 choices, one “more professional” photo and one that was “more me.” I asked my sister for her input. Then I asked another sister. After HOURS of agonizing over the “right” choice, I texted my mentor coach for help. After being asked to choose the one that resonated with me, I made the choice instantly. Because you see, I ALWAYS knew what the right choice was for me. I had just gotten SO caught up in how other people would receive it that I was in a state of analysis paralysis.
So what I realized through that experience was that the decisions that feel the hardest to make? Those are usually the ones where I’ve gotten too much in my own head or where I’m thinking about what OTHER people would do. But when I shut out all the external “noise”? THAT is when I’m able to hear what my own inner voice and intuition (which I like to call my gut) is telling me. And more often than not, when I’m able to slow down and listen, my decisions are pretty easy. And it’s pretty awesome. I highly recommend it!