Decision making is an inevitable part of life. Decisions about the mundane things are made with relative ease: Press snooze or get right up? Forward or delete? Sometimes, however, decision making can overwhelm and immobilize us. Sell, merge, or try a new marketing strategy? Resign from an unfulfilling job that pays well? Work at my marriage or file for divorce? Well, here’s one definitive answer: If you ever suffer from “analysis paralysis,” continue reading.
Indecisiveness can be attributed to a host of limiting beliefs and circumstances, including: stress; lack of knowledge or professional guidance; not knowing where to turn for help; lack of support from family or friends; and lack of motivation. “There are a lot of people who certainly would do better if they knew better,” says Pamela Everett Thompson, a clinical psychologist, professional life coach, and owner of Building Bridges to Better Lives P.C. in Atlanta. “But quite often my clients’ indecisiveness is caused by fear—fear of going against the grain and being rejected by loved ones; of making a mistake; of being less than perfect; even fear of success.” Thompson has a mantra for those paralyzed by fear: “Completion is better than perfection; and most mistakes are correctable.”
LaVonne Dorsey, a career and life coach, and founder of Welcome to Living in Seattle, notes that conflicting messages are a common cause of indecisiveness. “We’re moving so fast and we’re driven so much by others’ expectations that we’re often not even aware of what we actually want. Most of my clients’ indecisiveness stems from a conflict between what they want to do in their heart, what they think they should do in their head, and what others want from them.” She advises those grappling with conflicting messages to ask themselves what they really want. “Then bring your entire being into the decision-making process—head, heart, and intuition.”
These resources can help you start the process:
No Matter What! 9 Steps to Living the Life You Love (Wellness Central; $24.99) by Lisa Nichols
First Things First (Free Press; $16) by Stephen R. Covey
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (Penguin; $16) by David Allen
Coaching and therapy can help you along the path of self discovery if you’re committed to making a change. Ask a trusted co-worker, friend, or family member for a referral. Or locate a personal or professional coach at www.coachfederation.org.
This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.