Beer, Bombs, and Immortality: The Truth Behind Your Struggle With Indecision

Has a friend ever called and asked you if you wanted to go out for a beer at the end of the week and you responded by saying you’d get back to them and let them know? Even though you knew you had nothing going on Friday. And you were 99.9% sure that nothing was going to come up?

You know what that kind of response is called.

And it lies at the heart of a ton of performance crushing struggles including analysis paralysis… stalling mid-project… a lack of self-confidence… and more.

It’s called indecision.

And we’re going to dissect it in this post. I’m going to show you exactly why you hesitate when you should be taking action. And give you four simple steps that will eliminate indecision for you!

Do You Want To Live Forever?

Some people think being an effective decision maker is an innate ability. You know that guy who can make those snap decisions at a moment’s notice. With all the confidence of an army drill sergeant? They think that if you’re not born with it, you’re doomed to be indecisive.

Not true.

Indecision isn’t an inability to make a decision. It’s an unwillingness to make a decision. There are a lot of reasons for this.

But I have a theory about why many people may suffer from this unwillingness.

This may sound completely off the wall, but sometimes I really believe some people put off decisions because they think doing so will give them some sense of immortality. A sense of security that comes with avoiding the uncertainty of decision making. Like if they can just hold off on deciding, time will somehow glide to a stop. As long as they maintain the status quo, everything will continue on forever just like it has. Don’t cut the red or blue wire and the bomb won’t go off.

Do I really have to say this?

It doesn’t work that way. The world will keep on spinning. The bomb is going to explode. Your business will stall then crash and burn. You are going to die one day!

Avoiding decisions will not give you any measure of immortality. And it certainly won’t make your business any better.

Get over it!

The reality is indecision is just another form of procrastination.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Let me explain something where your struggles with indecision are concerned.

Not all decisions are created equal. Truth is most indecision stems largely from fear. The fear of making a mistake where your decision is concerned. (Think about the contestant on “Let’s Make A Deal” who goes home with the goat instead of the new car.) But there’s an important distinction (and important associated implications) where your fear of making decisions goes.

There are three ways your decision-making can go south. You can make a “wrong” decision, a “bad” decision, and finally no decision. Let me briefly explain each.

First there is the “wrong” decision. And you should never be afraid of making a “wrong” decision. A “wrong” decision is one where you evaluate all the facts and simply don’t choose the best possible alternative. Entrepreneurs make wrong decisions ALL THE TIME. It’s part of the job description!

If you make a wrong decision – so much the better. Now you’ve got valuable feedback on what you need to do next. And you can quickly move forward with even more confidence. You should never be afraid of making a wrong decision.

A “bad” decision, on the other hand, is a judgment you make using faulty or incomplete data. It’s usually a decision based on fear or hope instead of facts. Time’s running out so you take a wild guess.

Rarely do “bad” decisions work out for the best. Often the results can be both personally and financially painful. But the worst part of blindly making a decision is you never learn anything from them.

Now there is an upside to this. If you make a bad decision at least you’ve made a decision. That much is off your plate. You can get a little peace of mind. And you never know. You may get lucky. The key here is to avoid getting yourself into a position where you’re forced into making panic-driven guesses.

Finally there’s the “no” decision option. And this, for reasons of immortality or whatever, is too often the option entrepreneurs default to when they worry about making a wrong or bad decision.

But making no decision is even worse than a bad decision. There is absolutely no benefit in opting out of a decision.

If you give in to your indecision, everything stops. If you don’t decide, then nothing gets done. Work just keeps piling up. Along with the stress, the loss of confidence, the self-reproach you inflict on yourself and much more.

You want to stay miserable? Keep putting off making decisions.

The Silver Lining In All This Decision Talk

The good news is, if your performance suffers from indecision, it’s totally correctable.

Decision making is a learned behavior like anything else. You can retrain yourself to make decisions and make better decisions. And when you do it often enough, it becomes second nature, a behavior you do almost unconsciously. It boosts your confidence and the confidence of everyone around you. Let me tell you why.

When you make a decision, you are taking a form of action. Right or wrong, it is a form of action. Action is important in our subconscious minds. When we take action, we get a sense of accomplishment. We feel good. It’s an act of “clearing your plate.”

Once you make a decision on an issue, that issue goes away. It may become a task for you to check up on later, but the original dilemma goes away. And you move forward.

The better your decision-making skills, the faster you’ll move forward. But you’ve got to start somewhere first!

So, how can you start changing this behavior?

Four Steps To Building Your Decision Muscles

The cure for indecision is really pretty simple. But like all other performance-enhancing exercises, it can feel pretty unpleasant in the beginning.

When you are faced with any decision you have to make:

  1. Stay calm. I shouldn’t really have to say that, but I’m going to because when you panic over a decision to be made, any hope of rationality goes out the window. You become more and more apt to make the “bad” decision you want to avoid. So take a deep breath calm down.
  2. Get your perspective under control. Understand that unless you’re an ER doctor or a fighter pilot the decisions you make are almost certainly not life or death. (Or at least they shouldn’t be.) Whatever the decision you make – right, wrong, or otherwise – you’re going to live to fight another day.
  3. Then get your motivation straight. Think about the positive feedback you’ll get from making a decision. Think about the confidence boost you’ll get from simply making a decision where you wouldn’t before. The feeling of checking off one more item on your “to do” list. You want the idea of decision making to be something rewarding.
  4. Finally take action. Demand a decision from yourself. Seriously. Carefully consider your options and then take action. Don’t let yourself do anything else until you’ve made a decision. No distractions. No other “pressing” tasks. Until you’ve acted on that email. Responded to an employees question. Made whatever decision needs to be made. At first it might seem like an insurmountable struggle. But as you to it, it will become much easier.

These are four simple steps, but if you practice them when you’re faced with a decision, I guarantee the benefits will be both immediate AND far reaching.

But If You’re Still Having Trouble…

…You might be struggling with a much deeper issue.

A cause that lies at the root of this behavior.

You see, making a decision is about something more than choosing a web site template.

It’s about more than just picking one option among many. It’s actually about eliminating all your other options. It means no alternatives. No plan B’s.

It’s about commitment.

And subconsciously that’s the real challenge many entrepreneurs struggle with.

Like when your friend calls you to go out for that beer on Friday night and you can’t decide if you want to or not. That may not be a simple case of indecision.

It may actually be an unwillingness on your part to make a commitment.

I mean what if something way more awesome comes up? You’ll be stuck having drinks with your friend who’s now the reason you’re missing out on the time of your life. You’ll resent them forever. It probably won’t happen. But better put the whole idea on hold just to be safe.

Commitment can scare people on all different levels.

Some people are unwilling to commit to things like marriage. The thought of a life-long commitment is more terrifying than anything they can think of. Other’s can’t even pick a flavor of ice cream!

Two struggles – same problem. An unwillingness to commit.

Now hopefully all you need are the guidelines and a little mental reframing I laid out for you above. But if you’ve tried them and you still find yourself struggling, then you need to ask yourself a few deeper questions.

OK. You work on these. In the meantime I’m going to be getting ready for a Google Hangout with Dan Kennedy this Friday. (Something you might want to join in on!) After that, I’ll be back at noon ET on Saturday with your next lesson. I’m going to reveal another big performance killer that a lot of you have complained about. Be sure you set a few minutes aside this weekend to check it out!