What are you undecided about?
Which president to elect? Which diet to go on? Whether you should stay at your current job or pursue a new career? Where to go on vacation this year? Where to invest your money? Whether you should take a stand or speak up against a wrong? Whether to pursue your artistic talent? What to do about your romantic life? What charity to give to? If you should go back to school? Where to send your kids to school? If you should join a gym, run a marathon, take up tennis, or???
Living in an era of choice and age of information can be both empowering and anxiety-producing.
We all want the freedom to choose, but having too many options may paralyze us into indecision. Wanting the best, we often get stuck in analysis paralysis. We research, make cost/benefit lists and ask others for advice until we end up doing: nothing. Well, not nothing — we’ve actually exerted much energy, taken much time, and consumed our thoughts and minds with endless back and forth chatter.
Not deciding — when the situation calls for a decision to be made — is harmful to our professional, physical, personal and psychological health.
Oftentimes, we don’t decide because our thoughts pull us in (at least) two opposing directions. For example, we might say to ourselves, in our internal dialogue, that pursuing a promotion at work will give us more power and more money, so we can take our loved ones on enjoyable trips and spend quality time together. At the same time, our self-talk about a promotion may warn us that more responsibility at work will mean less time with our loved ones. The result of two opposing forces is inertia, which is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion (this includes changes to its speed, direction or state of rest). Isaac Newton stated this about inertia:
The vis insita, or innate force of matter, is a power of resisting by which every body, as much as in it lies, endeavors to preserve its present state, whether it be of rest or of moving forward in a straight line.
A truism in physics and a reality in our daily life, if we give in to inertia — constantly pushing and pulling our thoughts in opposite directions — we end up preserving our present state of stuck-ness. If, however, we imagine that in a tug of mind-war, we let go of one end of the rope (thoughts that pull us in an opposing direction) that isn’t truly serving us, we overcome inertia, a word derived from the Latin, iners, meaning idle and sluggish.
The force that propels our current velocity — sluggish or slow — to change direction, increase speed and build momentum is DECISION. The danger of indecision is staying stuck, and standing still, which is actually impossible since the world around us is ever-changing. Not deciding to pursue one direction, giving into the analysis paralysis, inertia, or the push-and-pull in two opposing directions, will actually lead us to not just stagnate, but regress.
So, right now, this very minute, choose to DECIDE on the tough things and simple situations you’ve been vacillating on with the following Six Steps to Get Un-Stuck:
1. Draw a picture of your face in the center of a page and label it: ME
2. Think about one area in your life that you’re undecided about
3. On the left side of your illustrated face, draw three to five arrows facing outward and write out three to five of your thoughts about making that decision
4. On the right side of your illustrated face, draw three to five arrows facing outward and write out three to five of your OPPOSING, i.e. completely contradictory, thoughts about making that decision
5. Take a good, long look at your face stuck in the middle of that tug of mind-war
6. DECIDE that you don’t want to be stuck anymore and cross out or erase the right or left arrows. Then fully allow yourself to pursue your chosen direction with, as the philosopher Aristotle stated, “the power to push that traveling body along.”
Lee Broekman is a communication coach and trainer. Her company Organic Communication, brings interactive, never boring, always edifying presentations and programs — focused on communication, collaboration and innovation — to your firm or organization.
Find her latest book Successful (Happy) Lawyering on
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