At some point in your life, you’ve struggled to make a decision. Perhaps you regularly struggle with making a decision. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, you buckle under pressure, freeze with indecisiveness and back down from making a choice. You’ve allowed the opportunity for growth to fade and let another life lesson fizzle. You become stuck in a state of paralysis by analysis.
You paralyze yourself by analyzing the potential outcome.
The brain is terrible at distinguishing thought from reality. We see a fraction of what’s real; the rest is made up in our minds. Our mind is remarkably efficient at using past experiences and marrying it to the present to bridge what it assumes is real. It is why we can make a snap judgement of a situation or person, even if it is unwarranted.
It’s no wonder when trying to make an important decision, do you hesitate and paralyze yourself from moving ahead with one option over another. Your brain convinces you of the future outcome by stitching together past memories (sometimes hurtful) and limited facts based on the present. The anxiety of the future unknown freezes you from making a decision.
So, how can you ever make a decision? Don’t be the donkey!
I’m reminded of the story of Buridan’s Ass. It’s a fictional story a donkey who’s equally thirsty as he is hungry. He is standing with equal distance from a water pail and a bail of hay. Because he’s both hungry and thirsty, he can’t make up his mind whether to eat or drink. The donkey ends up in a paralysis by analysis situation and so, can’t decide which to do first. Because of his indecision, the donkey dies from thirst and hunger. Little did he know, had he chose one or the other, he would have given himself enough strength to get the other.
Even with a decision in mind, how do you move on it? Try The 5-second rule.
Mel Robbins, bestselling author, TEDx and motivational speaker, explains in her book “The 5 Second Rule” that to move on a decision, it takes five seconds. It’s a simple rule, but never easy. When practiced, it works to move you into action and away from the paralysis. How does it work? Simply count down from 5 the next time you
5… The five-second countdown disrupts your destructive, paralyzing habit loops and takes your indecisive and anxious brain out of the equation.
4… You awaken the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the part of the brain responsible for learning new behaviour.
3… The countdown requires focusing on the decision at hand so you avoid paralysis by analysis.
2… When you reach “1” in your countdown, it becomes a sub-conscious prompt for action.
1… Most importantly, the 5-second rule teaches you to become the kind of person who goes from thinking about something to doing it. This practice builds confidence and pride.
To make a decision is simple, but of course, it is never easy. Spending valuable time over-analyzing decisions or wasting away brilliant ideas with paralyzing inaction are terrible ways not to give time meaning.
Follow your heart, make a decision and countdown from 5. Get a drink from your water pail and eat your hay. Please, don’t be the donkey. Give your time more meaning by making a decision and going with it.