Remember the last time you stood in the makeup aisle, just staring at those hundred shades and brands of lipstick, wondering which one to buy?
And then, after a gazillion minutes, you walked out of the store without buying any because you couldn’t decide between two slightly different shades of red?
Welcome to the world of analysis paralysis
You know, it’s that point where you’re so tangled up in all the variables and consequences of a particular decision that you can’t even remember what you were looking for in the first place.
To be fair, there are way too many lip color options now: highly pigmented colors, sheer options, long-wearing options, moisturizing ones, shimmers, high-gloss ones … sheesh. There goes the afternoon.
If the decision isn’t super clear and obvious, it’s easy to just shut down and kick the lipstick tube down the road for another day.
So how do you make decisions (cosmetic and non-cosmetic) without getting trapped in overthinking?
Why Do We Get Stuck?
So, why does this happen? Why do our once-decisive selves now find it daunting to choose a dress for the party, or decide on a vacation spot, or even pick a new hobby?
Well, with age (and hey, a lot of wisdom 😉), comes the understanding of consequences. We’ve seen the highs and lows life can bring, and that experience can sometimes make us overly cautious.
We end up seeking perfection in our choices, and trying to avoid any potential pitfalls.
The Beauty of Tiny Steps
Here’s the deali-o: No decision is ever going to be 100% perfect.
And while considering possible outcomes is always prudent and wise, over-analyzing can stop you in your tracks.
I’ve found that in many cases analysis paralysis sets in because you are trying to solve the whole thing all at one time.
I believe math people call it “solving for x.” A website called “Math is Fun” (it most certainly is not 😀 ) describes it this way:
“A Solution is a value we can put in place of a variable (such as x) that makes the equation true.”
So you’re walking around trying to solve big problems by finding one big solution that will just make it a one and done.
And when that big solution doesn’t materialize in your time frame, you start second guessing your ability to solve your own problems.
What if, instead of trying to solve the whole enchilada, you took baby steps?
When you take small, experimental steps, you gather real-time data. It’s no longer about all the things that might happen; it’s about what’s actually happening.
This feedback, whether it turns out to be positive or negative, provides a clearer direction for your next move.
It’s like trying out a fitness class before committing to a membership.
Break Free from the Analysis Paralysis Cycle
So, how can you start taking these steps, especially when your mind is swirling with a million “what ifs”?
- Embrace the Power of Now: Instead of pondering and wondering endlessly, give yourself a set amount of time. For example, if you’re deciding on a new hobby, research for two days and then take a trial class by day three. Limiting decision time pushes you into action.
- Acknowledge That Mistakes are Okay: Look, we’ve all been there. Worn a disastrous hair color, chosen a less-than-stellar vacation spot. But didn’t we also laugh about it later? Life’s too short for perfection. Embrace the missteps as they come; they often lead to the most delightful stories!
- List It Out: When in doubt, write it out. Jot down the pros and cons. But take it to another level: also write down the worst-case scenario for each choice. Most of the time, you’ll realize the worst isn’t that bad, or if it does happen, you have the ability to get through it.
- Talk to a Friend: Sometimes, all you need is a chat with somebody else outside your head. They can provide a fresh perspective or simply be the sounding board you need.
- Remember, Not Deciding is Also a Decision: And often, it’s a decision that leaves you in a standstill. So, while you’re waiting for the “perfect” moment, you might be missing out on several pretty awesome ones. So just, you know, do it.
Kickstart Your Decision-Making Mojo
Here are some of those baby steps to get you moving when you’re skating through the peanut butter of indecision:
- Start Small: Have a minor decision to make? Practice with that. Maybe it’s trying a new recipe or picking out a book. The point? Get used to what it feels like to decide and act quickly.
- Set Decision Deadlines: Set aside specific times for reflection and decision-making. Once the deadline is up, make your choice, take a deep breath and roll with it.
- Celebrate Your Decisions: Yes, even the not-so-great ones. Every choice is a learning experience. Cherish it!
- Journal Your Journey: Documenting your decisions and their outcomes can be enlightening. Over time, you’ll notice patterns, helping you make better-informed choices in the future. Trust me, this is really powerful!
- Stay Curious: Adopt a learner’s mindset. Be open to outcomes, whatever they might be. Cliche, I know, but sometimes the journey is more enlightening than the destination.
Each decision, whether big or small, is a stepping stone towards growth, experience, and understanding.
So, the next time you find yourself stuck between two shades of lipstick or a more profound life choice, take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, and then just take a small leap.
It’s not about the outcome but your commitment to take action, any action, that counts.
You’ve got the wisdom and experience to face whatever comes next. Embrace it!