The Pink Elephant: Deciding not to Decide.

September 18, 2019

Working with a client who wanted to sell his business and start living a different life, he and his wife were excited to travel more, have more freedom and spend more time with their first grandchild. The great news is he found a buyer, the bad news is he didn't do the deal. Why? He delayed making decisions around the final details of the sale. The result was he lost the buyer, his dreams are on hold and his wife is not happy! 


Indecisiveness is an avoidance behaviour and is the result of us wanting to keep ourselves safe. Sometimes it is learnt, "to fit in around here I need to keep my head down" and "if I don't get involved I can't be in trouble", or it can become a habit. You have a bad experience around making a decision so you start to tell yourself things like "I am not good at decision making" or "When I make quick decisions things generally go wrong". 


But let's face it not deciding is actually a decision. When we decide not to make a decision we really are choosing the possibility that something might be a wrong decision over the knowledge that it definitely is. Here is what I know the only decision that is truly wrong is not making a decision when you know something needs to be different. 


So let's eat this elephant one bite at a time.

  • There is no right decision, only different ways of approaching things so stop thinking in terms of right and wrong.

  • Agonising over all the 'What if's' isn't the answer, it creates more stress and will not move you forward because none of us really knows what the future looks like.

  • Time does not help, things do not just work themselves out, what actually happens is other people make decisions and you have to live with them.

  • You can never have all the information, waiting to gather more and more information can be an endless pursuit. The truth is we can never know everything.

  • You can have too much information, when we overload ourselves with data, choice and opinions it simply creates more complexity. The fact is our brain can only hold one thought in its attention at one time so when we overload it with thoughts our brain then needs to juggle them constantly. Gathering endless amounts of information is an avoidance tactic - see it for what it is and stop!


Got a small decision to make? Set yourself a time limit, trust your intuition and don't overthink it. Got a tough decision to make? Using the power of habit can help, look out for my next blog Making tough decisions: A habit worth practicing.



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