A Simple Guide to Making Better Decisions

Why Too Many People Get Paralyzed and What to Do Instead


Photo Credit: Marianna Di Ferdinando via Compfight cc

Thirty years from now, you will not remember what cereal you chose at the grocery store last week. You won’t recall whether you saw that thriller flick everyone was talking about or settled for the romantic comedy. And you probably will not be wondering if you should have gone to the other college.

What will matter, in the end, with most decisions is that you acted, that you decided to do something.

Let me tell if to you straight: The decisions that feel so important to you right now ultimately don’t matter. At least, they don’t matter as much as they feel like they matter now.

Because the fact is most decisions aren’t life-changers.

Here’s what I’ve been hearing lately from friends who are struggling to make the right decision:

  • “I have three books I’d like to write, but I don’t know which one to start first.”
  • “I’d love to quit my job, but what would I do? I have so many passions.”
  • “I’ve always wanted to live on the beach, but I can’t decide exactly where.”

The truth is in most cases, there is no “right choice.” You simply have to take action on what you know and live with the consequences. The wrong choice, then, is to make no choice at all.

The universe doesn’t care what you have for breakfast today, but chances are you will eat something. And if you refuse to choose, you will starve. Certainly, you’d be better off eating eggs than Pop Tarts, so it’s not to say that there some decisions aren’t better than others. It’s just that most of the time, you need to decide, and that decision is based on a limited set of data. If you waited, you could know more, but you would also lose an opportunity.

So if you stall, like I do, here’s a simple solution to your indecision: just make a choice, live with it, and learn.

This is the very thing many of us are afraid of to do — make a choice. Any choice at all. We waste time writing up plans and setting goals that never get done and squander our chance to make a difference.

What’s better than planning

I’m not anti-planning; I just know that for me (and plenty of people I talk to), a lot of that stuff is just stalling. Hiding. Another way to stay stuck.

So what’s the solution? What’s the answer to this paralysis we sometimes feel? Just start. Life is a journey, not a business plan. Quit trying to control things, let go, and live the story.

What I’m trying to say is this: Where you’re going doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. Just go. More often than not, you just need to move in a direction, any direction. As you build momentum, you can learn to steer.

Your job is to take chances, not have all the answers. If this resonates with you — if it challenges the very fibers of your being — try any (or all) of the following today:

  • Go for a walk.
  • Take a run.
  • Sit outside without your smartphone or laptop.
  • Climb a tree.
  • Do something dangerous.
  • Fall down.
  • Scrape your knee.
  • Tell someone you love them.
  • Laugh even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Write the first paragraph of that book.
  • Deliver a speech to a stranger.
  • Fill out that application.
  • Ask that girl/guy out.

Sure, some of these things may seem silly, but the more you do them, the more alive you’ll feel. And that’s the secret of a fulfilled life: It’s not about the destination, it’s about the direction.

If you don’t know what to do with your life — what book to write, what song to sing, what job to choose, which person you should ask out — try picking something. It’s not a fail-proof solution, but it ain’t a bad place to start.

Because the truth is once you start moving, you can always change direction.

A version of this article originally appeared on goinswriter.com.


Jeff Goins is the author of four books, including the national bestseller The Art of Work. For thoughts on writing and life, you can join his free newsletter.