Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Indecision


There is something very attractive about indecision, in that everything seems possible because not making a decision means keeping he rest of the options open. But it is this breadth of options that stress us out to the point of “deer in front of headlights”.

For smaller decisions but ones that have high dependencies to other decisions, the deer in front of headlights symptoms take precious time away from actually executing on the project. For example, you are hosting an event, and you aren’t sure how many people to invite. That number dictates the venue and the menu, and you aren’t sure if you should decide on the venue and the menu first and let that dictate the number of people). Go back to WHY you are hosting the event in the first place. Have the reason for the event dictate what the most important factor is. Pick that factor and let it dictate the constraints for making the rest of the decisions. Just like solving multivariable equations, say for x, y and z, you first have to decide you are going to solve for x in terms of y and z, and then you stick that expression back where you see x. Now it’s a 2-variable equation. You can express y in terms of z. You knock out the variables one by one. It is important that you don’t revert back to favoring another factor, like the number of people: “wait, but the venue won’t hold more than 50 people…” if you already prioritized the venue to be the most important factor.

I have three additional thoughts:

  1. Not choosing is an option (for better or worse), but falling into it as a result of non-action/failure to decide usually means prolonged psychological stress.
  2. Not all options are equal, but more importantly, treating them as if one is “more” than the other, only makes it harder for you to decide, as if there is one right option. More on that by Ruth Chang, a philosopher’s take on making hard decisions.
  3. It isn’t so much about the options that are out there but about the one for whom the decision is being made (whether it’s you making a decision for yourself or for others). It’s about what you are bringing to the decision, and what your values are. Know thy self. What are your values?

The “trick” I use, after exploring the options, is to pick one…any one of the options, and live with it for a day. I pretend I really picked that option and I start making plans based on that decision, and see how I feel. Even if I get a little uncomfortable or have second thoughts, I make sure to not consider the other options. If at the end of the day, the option felt like “mine”, then I stick with it. If it didn’t feel right, I go back and pick another option. Rinse and repeat.

It’s similar to how I make the final hiring decision. I close my eyes and visualize what it’s like to have hired that person: from orienting them in the first week and coming up with short term goals to how I would praise or reprimand them. The final test is If I can see them in these situations and I like what I see.

Photo: Florence, Italy


One comment on “On Indecision

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This entry was posted on April 13, 2015 by in Management and tagged , .
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