Big life decisions, like applying for a new job, having kids, or starting your own company require a more sophisticated decision making process. These decisions require research, weighing the costs and benefits, and perhaps even consulting with loved ones or other professionals. Sometimes, we can easily acquire these resources to quickly identify the best choice for our lives. However, when the stakes feel too high or when the options feel too vast, we can fall into the trap of indecision.
High Stakes Decision-Making
We’ve all experienced the gut-wrenching feeling that wells in our stomach when we need to make a high stakes decision. Perhaps you realize that your company’s website needs a major overhaul. Years ago, you built the website from scratch using a basic template, and it’s just barely getting you by. You begin to search for freelancers and write out plans for the website’s vision.
This time around, you want the website to be perfect. However, with each day you don’t move toward website improvement, you’re sitting with a website that potential customers are either questioning or flat-out ignoring. When the stakes are high, it’s easy to tell ourselves that the time we spend gathering resources is justified in pursuit of perfection. As a result, nothing changes.
Paradox of Choice
Another phenomenon that often appears in moments of indecision is the Paradox of Choice. In a basic sense, the Paradox of Choice occurs when we are presented with too many decisions or decisions that feel overwhelming. For example, we may search for a freelancer only to realize that there are hundreds of options, all with five-star reviews. How can you possible choose when there are so many to choose from? This feeling of overwhelm results in an inability to make any decision at all. Instead, we decide not to choose. You delay the process yet another day, and yet another day your website sits stagnant.
Change is often difficult and intimidating. It’s mentally taxing, which makes it easy to get stuck in the perpetual process of weighing options and obsessing over small details. Ultimatley, however, it often results in no decisions at all.
This is because the current state feels safer and more reliable. As the saying goes, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. We know the pros and cons of our website. We know how to pull in customers in spite of it, so what really is the hurry? Why not wait to ensure we find the perfect solution? This is a trap. At the end of the day, the worst decision you can make for yourself and your company is to remain indecisive.
Choice is a funny thing. When we are facing a high-stakes decision or too many options, we often tell ourselves and others that we simply haven’t decided yet. But that’s not true. Every day we don’t decide to move forward is a day we decide to remain the same, to stay stagnant. Because choosing not to choose is a decision all the same.
What resources can you leverage to work toward meaningful change in your life today?