Woman holding two lipsticks

Avoid the Overthinking Trap and Make Faster Decisions

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.

How?

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”?

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Celebrate Your Decisions: Yes, even the not-so-great ones. Every choice is a learning experience. Cherish it!
  4. 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!
  5. 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!

Broken skincare bottle

My Skincare Saga: What a Broken Bottle Taught Me About Value

Like many of you, I love trying out new skincare products. Especially those that come with rave reviews.

I recently ordered one such item from a great brand on Amazon. A skincare influencer I follow recommended this product, and I was eager to make it part of my regular 9-step AM & PM skin care routine (okay, it’s not quite 9 steps but let’s just say my Gen X skin has me super committed to my process). 🙂

This product was pictured in a lovely brown glass bottle, with all the trappings of elegance and effectiveness. And a pretty decent price, too.

When Elegance Meets Envelope

Picture my surprise (and not the good kind) when the package arrived and I found the bottle crushed, its contents spilled all over my other purchases. They had packed it in a small, lightly padded envelope inside a larger padded envelope.

No box. No extra bubble wrap. A glass bottle.

The image above gives you a glimpse of the mess (I’ve hidden the brand name, as I’m not trying to tarnish their reputation—I did receive a friction-free refund from Amazon, after all).

Disappointment doesn’t even begin to cover it. And yes, while Amazon promptly issued a refund, I felt compelled to write to the seller on their website.

My intent? To let them know about the inadequate packaging.

Were they aware that Amazon was sending the product out this way? I used to own an online shopping store, and when customers reached out to show me damaged items or packaging, I at least appreciated the opportunity to see how I could avoid that in the future.

Broken Bottle, Broken Connection

This brand’s response, while fairly prompt, lacked a fundamental human touch. Two things stood out:

  • A Missing Apology: It wasn’t their goof, I get it. But at no point did they express regret for the mishap, or even acknowledge the fact that in my email I had let them know I’d been looking forward to trying their product. The “Great Crushing” had left me disappointed …er… crushed, that I hadn’t been able to make that product step #10 in my routine. It felt like they missed a beat in connecting with me, a potential repeat customer.
  • Defending Without Empathy: Their email went on to justify their packaging choice, highlighting that out of half a million shipments, only a handful had met the same fate as mine. They explained that better packaging would increase costs, which, of course, would make the product more expensive. I couldn’t help but think, “Sooooo, I’m just one of the unlucky few, then?”

Imagine if they had simply acknowledged my disappointment and offered a gesture, like sending a free bottle, or at least a coupon. At a minimum that would have demonstrated their ability to get the product to me intact, just like the other 499,999+ customers.

I’m not trying to sound entitled because after my refund, quite frankly, they don’t owe me anything at all.

I understand that.

But that $20 bottle could have converted me into a loyal customer. I would be using it twice a day forever, you know?

Golden Age of Gas and Greetings

This experience got me thinking, especially about how service seems to be dwindling in many areas of our lives. We all like to complain about that now, don’t we?

Full-service gas stations were still a thing when I was a kid. So that’s my point of reference.

Just think about the last time you visited a fast-food restaurant. Have you noticed how often they get your order wrong? Or how the person at the counter is more engrossed in their phone than in ensuring you have a pleasant experience?

We exchange our time, energy, and hard-earned money for these services and products, yet more often than not, we’re now met with a mediocre experience.

And on some level, we’ve learned to be okay with that because… labor shortage, or disengaged employees, or just … reasons.

Obviously, this is not just about a bottle of skincare. And it’s not even about great customer service.

This was about me recognizing the value of my time and energy. At the end of the day, this was a $20 item, and, yes, I could have just re-ordered it and called it a day.

But I had to ask myself, is this the experience I really want?

Do I value my time and energy enough to keep looking for a skincare product that isn’t just effective, but is backed by a brand that honors the decisions I make with my wallet and attention?

Claiming Your Worth in a Checkout World

What are the things in your life that you’re just putting up with because it’s convenient and comfortable?

Where are you accepting the “lowest common denominator” instead of seeking what truly honors your worth and value?

Sometimes, to get what you truly desire, you have to be willing to say no to things that don’t represent what matters most to you.

You may have to give up convenience or cost, but in the end, aren’t you worth that?

Blue sneakers with a yellow arrow facing right.

Bust Out of the Expected Life Script and Embrace Your Dreams

Do you feel like you’re supposed to follow a specific timeline? We bolted out of high school with all kinds of latch-key-kid bravado, and even though we wanted to pursue our own specific gifts and talents in our very own special way, there was still kind of this prescribed road we all tried to follow.

College, grad school, start a career, get married, have kids, work for a few decades, retire.

It’s as if we expected our lives to follow a neat, orderly path, one milestone conveniently leading to the next.

As if.

But let’s really look at that for a minute.

Life is unpredictable, and after 2020 I think that’s a major understatement. Life is clearly a series of twists, turns, and surprise plot points when we least expect them. It’s hardly ever a neat and tidy journey from Point A to Point B.

So why do we keep expecting it to be that way?

I came out of college with an undergraduate degree in English Literature and no idea how I was going to use it (no teaching for me, please). I went from advertising to administrative work and back again. A few years later a new thing called the Internet took me down the yellow brick road to web design, of all things, which brought me into corporate marketing and communications.

The high-stress environments I always seemed to find myself in parlayed into yet another career as a mental health therapist. I was the office therapist before I became a therapist with an office. Poetic, right?

I went from William Shakespeare to Carl Jung in a span of about 25 years (with a little Frasier thrown in just for laughs). I couldn’t have predicted any of it, and it’s been really cool. And on top of my professional journey to Oz, I am a grandmother, which is the best role I could ever have, hands down.

But I still sometimes carry around the nagging feeling that I should be in a certain place “by now.” I can’t even really tell you what that place is, it’s just an echo of some kind of societal map that no one bothered to unfold for me. Even though no one drew any particular timeline for me, I still feel like I should be hitting some kind of arbitrary markers in this “time of my life.”

It’s like a weird Gen X FOMO.

Why do we to place ourselves (and let others place us) in these timeline boxes? Who made these rules anyway? Here’s a better question: Why don’t we break these rules more often?

The Myth of the “Right” Timeline

We’ve all been sold a myth – that there’s a “right” timeline for achieving our dreams and goals. It can feel like there’s an invisible stopwatch clicking away, setting deadlines for when we should have accomplished our biggest life goals.

Even if others don’t put that kind of pressure on you, my guess is that you’ve become pretty adept at putting that pressure on yourself. You probably did that in your 30s, too, and created all kinds of angst for yourself. Good timesl

Speaking to my high performers, overthinkers and all points in between here: Your timeline is YOURS. It doesn’t belong to society, to your family, or to anyone else.

It’s your journey, your pace, your dreams.

Embracing your unique journey means ditching these arbitrary timelines and pursuing whatever’s rolling around in your heart, regardless of your age or life stage.

Want to start a business in your 40s, 50s, or 60s? Do it! Who knows what you might create for yourself, your family, and the world around you? You may end up having so much fun that worrying about retirement might not be so top of mind anymore.

Thinking about switching careers, or even going back to school? It’s always a good time to invest even more in your own skills and talents. As awesome as you are right now, maybe you haven’t even lived up to your professional potential yet. Can you imagine?

So what if it looks to everyone else like you’re starting over. Nothing is ever wasted and every experience matters.

The younger folk don’t own the energy and focus to accomplish big goals. They’re determined by your passion, drive, and willingness to work towards them. And being in this “time of your life” means you know where a lot of the potholes are so that makes you an even smarter bet to win.

Have the time of your life

Don’t be afraid to listen to that inner voice that’s whispering about what still feels unfinished in your life. Don’t drown it out because it doesn’t align with some timeline given to us by popular society.

Ditching society’s timeline means you’re brave enough to follow your dreams at your own pace.

So, what are you waiting for?