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The Skill of Making Imperfect Decisions

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We all want to succeed. We want to make the best decisions, complete our work successfully, and feel competent in the things we are asked to do. However, when our desire for success becomes a pursuit of perfection, analysis paralysis can be the by-product of the fear of failure. When we want perfection so badly or when we fear failing too much, making the wrong decision can seem like the worst thing ever. This can influence us to avoid an uncomfortable decision, feeling frozen or weighed down; your brain unable to act.

So how do you know which option is best? How can you avoid making a mistake or failing? The short answer: Stop asking those questions. Those questions are the reason why you feel paralyzed. The most important thing is not making the best decision or choosing the right option, the most important thing is making a decision. Making the “wrong decision” is better than making no decision. Once you have acted or moved, it is easier to continue acting or moving. For example, if you were considering which exercise routine was best for you (cardio kicking boxing class, solo weight training, or running outdoors), you could evaluate each type’s strengths and weaknesses, compare those to your fitness goals, consider your preferences, etc., etc. Or you can immediately discover which one is best for you. Drum roll please: Whichever one you actually start doing!

For those who are paralyzed by indecision, consider this counterintuitive advice. The time to decide which option is best is after you have chosen an imperfect option (after all, there is no perfect option). A helpful motto is “Try fast, fail fast, evaluate fast, try again fast.” Once you have started down the path you can make course corrections. You cannot, however, correct your course if you have yet to move.


Shawn Healy, PhD


CATEGORIES: Anxiety | Burnout | Career & Practice Concerns | Stress & Resilience | Uncategorized

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