How much is indecision draining your mental and emotional energy?
I don’t think we consider that question enough when we’re in a stalled decision-making scenario. Too often, we’re in a position where we’re worried about the consequences of a change away from our status quo while discounting the work of maintaining the status quo.
We do this because we often assume the decision in question …
- is non-reversible or long-term, i.e. we can’t change our minds once we’ve made the decision
- is high stakes
- requires an all-or-nothing change
Most of our decisions don’t have all three of those, though. Having kids is up there for most of us, but, aside from that, we’re not living in an action-adventure movie such that the fate of the universe hinges on one decision.
Knowing those three decision traps, we can invert them so that we can play with decisions more because most decisions are fairly reversible, low-stakes, or can be done in incremental changes.
For instance, if you’re considering buying a new car but aren’t sure if it’s right for you, you may be able to inquire about whether there’s a loaner car you could rent for a week or to see if a car rental outfit has one available. Most states also have grace periods for decisions like this that most consumers don’t know about or feel comfortable taking.
If you’re not certain about moving to a city, perhaps you can stay in an Airbnb long enough to get a feel for the community you’re moving into or stay in a hotel for a week to feel it out.
Not sure which new gadget to buy? Most have 15- or 30-day return windows. I did this earlier this year when I bought an iPhone Pro Max to see if it could simplify my tech ecosystem and returned it after learning just how much of a small phone guy I really am. (A post for another day.)
In a business context, you can hire someone as a limited contractor before jumping into a full-time employment scenario. Or you can test an offer or product with a smaller segment of your customers before you go further with your broader audience. Or try something for a quarter or season before making it long-term.
I’m aware that all of these ways to try and experiment with things cost time, energy, attention, and money, but that pulls me back to my original question. If the decision in question is worth making, it’s probably already costing time, energy, attention, and money to not make it. (I suggested making a project budget in Start Finishing precisely because it can be really helpful to weigh the potential project budget against the status quo.)
At least with some of the options above, you’re not paying those costs without getting real information that may help you move closer to the decision. And if you account for what the status quo is truly costing you and still decide that, all things considered, you want to wait it out, you may be able to stop ruminating over it for a while to go focus on something else you might actually decide to do.
There’s a lot of relief when you intentionally hold on making a decision or actively explore a decision. While both require an investment of some type, they may be less than what indecision is costing you.