It’s always a good idea to weigh your options before making a decision – especially an important one – but overdoing it can be a problem. If you tend to over-analyse situations, take comfort in the fact that there is no such thing as a ‘right’ decision, just an assortment of possibilities. So how do you decide?
The consequences of making the wrong decision can be long lasting, so the pressure of making the ‘right’ choice can make it seem impossible to make any decision at all. The thing to remember about decisions is that they are usually very personal. Often there’s no one ‘right’ course of action, just an array of possible ones, each with their own consequences. As a chronic over-analyser, I have found it difficult to make certain decisions in the past. I have worked hard on being more proactive in my decision-making and have developed a list of tips that might help others in the same boat.
- Do your research – but don’t overdo it: While asking questions and gathering information is an important step, over-analysing could simply be procrastination. More information might be helpful but it won’t automatically reveal the right choice. By all means, gather all the facts, but then resolve to choose. At some point, you need to make a decision and just go for it (or not) then move on with your life.
- Trust your gut: First impressions count and can often be the best driver of a good decision. Try to visualise the outcome of your decision and see how it makes you feel. Marie Forleo, American entrepreneur, life coach and author, calls this the ‘physical test’ – she recommends tapping into the physical any time you’re torn. Ask yourself whether you want to do something, then pay attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle shifts in your body. If you feel a sense of dread or heaviness, it’s probably a no; if you feel lighter or brighter, it could be a yes. Even decisions that seem scary can still feel exciting or enticing.
- Ask your trusted network: Choosing a close circle of friends, family and/or colleagues to give you advice can help. But try not to involve everyone you know; sometimes the need for outside validation can override sensibility and get in the way of making the best choice. Focus on a small group of trusted people – this will help ensure you receive a balanced and hopefully unbiased response without it becoming overwhelming.
- Picture the best- and worst-case scenarios: Drill down into the detail and work out what will happen after you make the decision. What’s the very best outcome? What’s the worst that could happen? Can you deal with the eventual outcome(s)? If it’s a bad outcome, how hard will it be to resolve, stop, alter and/or move on? Will others be affected? Quite often, even the very worst outcome will be something you can recover from quickly. Whether or not you’re prepared to face the outcome can be a good way to help you make your decision.
- Try it out: Sometimes the best way to make a decision is to test it – particularly if it’s a big life decision like moving house or changing careers. For example, if you’re considering a career change, can you volunteer somewhere first, take a course or complete an internship? If you’re considering moving somewhere completely different, can you rent a place for a month and try living like a local?
Sometimes the pressure to make the right decision can paralyse us into making no decision at all. This is particularly true for over-thinkers who tend to place barriers on decisions and can be prone to procrastination. While it’s perfectly acceptable (and even preferable) to take the time to ensure you make the best possible decision, at some point, you need to bite the bullet. You might botch it up or have to deal with some negative consequences, but you might also make the best decision of your life.
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