First or second? How about third, fourth, fifth …and so on? I’m a Libra. That’s what Libras do. I can argue all sides of an issue and still not make up my mind.
I used to work as part of a team made up of nothing but Libras. Our team meetings were a hoot. We would all start off with our own opinions and then argue loudly and heatedly and end up with everyone on the opposite side by the end of the meeting. But we all loved each other and it was actually great fun…until we got a new boss who was a Taurus. But that’s a whole different question. I’m pretty sure I have one about worst bosses ever.
I have heard that, when doing a multiple choice quiz, you should always go with your first thought. Sounds like a good rule and certainly one that would make test-taking easier.
But life isn’t always that simple and as a career coach I have seen people suffering from ‘paralysis by analysis’. They cannot make up their minds and end up doing nothing. Sometimes people are immobilized because they just see so many options. Sometimes they can’t see all the options that are available to them. But either way, making a decision is scary because people are so afraid of making the WRONG choice.
Well I have a solution. Here we go:
1. Remember, you cannot predict the future. All you can do is make a decision based on what you know and the resources you have available right now. You have to accept that ‘right now’ is a moment in time and that after you make the decision all kinds of things might change. But if you made the best choice you could based on ‘right now’, let go and don’t beat yourself when things change.
2. Do your research and then stop and make the frikken decision! Don’t research endlessly. Do the best research you can and then make the decision based on what you know ‘right now’. Over-researching is a sure route to ‘paralysis by analysis’.
3. Be open minded and list all the options you can think of. Don’t limit yourself and the possibilities
4. Don’t bother with pros and cons. Focus on the pros for each option. People like to make lists of pros and cons. I know I used to do it too. The problem with pros and cons is that it sets up an expectation that there are good choices and bad choices. When you don’t know what the future will bring, you are really just arbitrarily labelling and scaring yourself in the process. Instead use a technique introduced by Susan Jeffers in her book, ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’. I’ve used this for years in my career coaching practice and I have to attest that it does take away some of the fear associated with making a decision. Here’s how it works: list all the options across the top of the page and then list the good things about each option under that option.
5. When you’ve come up with all your options and listed the good things about each one, count them up. The option with the most pros—wins!
6. Remember, you sometimes don’t have to choose just one. Sometimes, you can see that one option is the most loved and has the most pros but it’s not possible right now. Sometimes, you can see that one option is best ‘right now’ but that you can work towards the most-loved and best option so that you can pursue it at a later date.
Using this process has been a real help for me in making decisions. Give it a try.
My basic philosophy is ‘lighten up’. Life is an unfolding. You allow one opportunity to unfold and then others that are completely out of sight suddenly appear and offer a whole new path for you to explore.