When my wife and I were shopping for our yet-to-be-born baby we did like any soon-to-be parents would do, we tried to prepare early. Armed with the proverbial to-do list of must-gets we set out on a journey to Babies “R” Us and began the arduous task of crossing off item by item.
First up were pacifiers. We perused the store and homed in on the newborn section. What we stumbled upon next scared me for the rest of our day. What was presented to us was a sky-high wall of pacifiers beyond our scope of vision.
We were instantly overwhelmed, not only by the wall of binky’s, but the impending and monumental path of myriad decisions that lay before us. Size, shape, color, age ranges, capabilities, and any other criteria was offered to no end on every single product that crossed our path. Choice was an understatement.
The paradox of choice
You may be familiar with the paradox of choice concept. Given the insane amount of choices in this world we tend to become frustrated and a bit paralyzed by that concept and find it harder and harder to make the “right” choice.
We agonize, mull-over, and over analyze our offer of choices and become increasingly pained by our inevitable indecision. Fear sets in as we hesitate over making the “wrong” choice. The choice that may set us in the wrong direction, derail our efforts, and possibly sink our aspirations. We envision the wrong choice thrusting us in a negative spiral destroying all we’ve worked so hard for.
How could we possibly choose? How could we ever gain enough knowledge to make the absolute perfect decision?
“Get action; do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create; act; take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action.”Theodore Roosevelt
The simplest solution involves taking control of our impulses and stopping analyzing too much, doing our best to gather relevant information, and forcing ourselves to make a choice. Period.
Notice I said relevant. We tend to do two main things when analyzing our choices. One, we get too caught up in the nuances and other nonimportant aspects of said choices and we give ourselves too much time to make that choice especially when time isn’t a pressing factor.
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.Walt Disney
To cut this short for the sake of brevity, action is the key. Action is what sets us crawling along at a snail’s pace to moving forward no matter how imperfect we may think our choice was.
Action, no matter how perceptually haphazard, moves us in the right direction. Sure, it may not be a straight and linear trajectory. It may look more like a stereotypical pirate’s treasure map in a cartoon, but it still moves us toward our destination.
But there is one more step on this road of action.
One reason, I believe, we become so paralyzed by decisions is that we fail to truly trust ourselves. We may outwardly portray an air of self-confidence to others, but inside we are constantly doubting our decisions or lack thereof.
“Overthinking leads to self-doubt, leads you to hesitate. It becomes a catalyst for self-paralysis. Resist the urge to overthink, to outthink. Thinking too hard and too long nurtures fearful considerations and creates great excuses to hold back.”Bob Ridinger
By trusting ourselves, even if we start to reduce our decision timing or aren’t presented with the perceived “best option,” we can finally move forward. With each new decision, we can make educated assessments and move on again. And again, and again.
We create a forward-moving momentum that starts to numb our senses of paralysis and doubt. We begin to gain confidence and skills little by little. We trust ourselves to make enough of a good choice to get a little closer to where we want/need to go. We soon forget that the perfect choice is even reality as we observe that our many good choices are much stronger and more resilient than the fragile and mythical “perfect” choice.
Do you have a tactic or strategy you use to make choices moving forward in life?