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November 21, 2012 / Dale Melchin

The Futility of Indecision

Have you ever had a decision that regardless of how you parsed it out you couldn’t make the decision?  I know I have at certain points.  One of those until recently has been my choice of career.  While I’m not going to get into it b/c discussion goals is a factor in non-achievement.  I will say that I have made the decision and I am slowly but surely moving toward the goal.

The problem of indecision stems from the following areas.  The first is fear.  This fear can manifest itself in many forms.  It can be fear of making the wrong choice.  It can be fear of other’s disapproval.  It can be simply fear of having ones options closed off to them after making the decision.  I can even be fear that even if you make the right choice the universe is still going to punish you.  In any case, fear can be normal but is often times irrational.  It is resolved by questioning the fear.  Why do we fear this or that?  Once we figure it out and label the fear and accept possible negative outcomes to our right decisions, we can manage it better.

The next is paralysis of analysis.  You are trying to figure out the best solution, but you are overwhelmed by the data, and so become paralyzed and no decision is made, and you revert back to fear.  Paralysis of analysis can be overcome by realizing that utilizing the bounded rational decision making model.

You look at the problem and how you want to solve it.  You look at your options you find and weight your criteria based on the costs, benefits and desired outcomes and you make your decision.  For more on bounded rationality go here  You also have to accept the fact that there is no perfectly rational decision.  The rational decision making model is impossible b/c you have limits on time and resources, and it promotes stalling.  The bounded rationality model encourages you to put some skin in the game and asks what sort of outcomes do you want to have as well.
The next is just laziness or procrastination.  This one just bugs the crap out of me, b/c I’ve done this and really it is just a low level form of fear.  We put it off based on conditions that aren’t relevant, or we make excuses.

All of these stalls can be overcome by doing the Ben Franklin decision chart.

Decision X
Pros Cons

All you have to do is list all the pros, all the cons and if the pros out way the cons, you are on your way to a decision.  If you are having problems after that there is either something you didn’t list or you need to do recovery work from your fear.

With this in mind, what would eliminating indecision from your life, make possible for you?


One Comment

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  1. Erica / Jan 2 2013 12:01 pm

    I try to list the pros and cons at Whitey’s, but I wind up being indecisive anyways… 😉

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