Written by Neha Reddy Kuthuru
Fries or wedges? Ranch or ketchup? With or without cheese?
While choosing lunch might not have a substantial impact on our lives (some may argue otherwise but that isn’t the point of this blog) but having too many options on our plate more often than not does not serve us any good.
When presented with seemingly endless options, we enter a state of ‘decision paralysis’ also called analysis or choice paralysis. By definition, decision paralysis is the inability to make a decision. You become paralysed by the range of choices, decisions become harder with more options and mistakes become more likely. And the fear of making the wrong decision stops any kind of action.
Psychologist Barry Schwartz, in his book The Paradox of Choice, explains how an increase in the number of options available actually results in people being unhappier and more dissatisfied. Instead of empowering us to make better choices, our access to unlimited information often leads to an amplified fear of making the wrong decision.
When it comes to decision paralysis, the paradox just isn’t about the choice. Another byproduct of this state is that when we choose from multiple options, there’s a bigger chance of regretting our decision. The thought of what would have happened if we had picked something else keeps lurking in our minds. There is also an obvious repercussion on productivity. When we tend to over analyse a decision, the repetitive thoughts decrease the amount of memory we have available to complete challenging tasks, resulting in decreased productivity.
Here are a few suggestions to win against decision paralysis and make the most out of the choices given to you -
- Break it down. shifting the attention to smaller, simpler and actionable decisions makes it easier to make progress towards the overarching goal
- Don’t look for a perfect solution. ’cause it doesn’t exist. instead focus on optimising the options to find the best viable solution.
- Delegate the decision. when in a state of severe indecision, delegate the decision making to a colleague, friend or an expert who could possibly make the choice.
- Paint a clear picture of the desired outcome. this helps contextualise the process and prioritise only the necessary decisions.
Next time you are immobilised by indecision, just take a deep breath and make a choice. It’s always better to choose something than nothing at all and turns out more isn’t always better.