Why is deciding so hard?

Man oh man. Let me tell you, deciding on things can be a real pain in the neck sometimes. Take for example my recent attempt at migrating and then rather updating forenji.com, and my attempt to get ConsultForenji.com, just the way I want it.

There is always a “better” way or a “better” option, or at least we think there is. Sometimes this pursuit for betterness causes us to give up entirely. Like that guy you know who can’t commit to his girl cause he hasn’t found the perfect one yet. Well, he never will.

So why is deciding so hard? Well, there may be lots of reasons: commitment, fear, doubt, to name a few. But the real culprit is perfection. We want perfection now, or nothing at all. We fail to realise that perfection is a process.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often” – Winston Churchill

Here’s my advice: Don’t make perfection your goal, make perfecting your habit, and so free yourself from that nagging need to get things “just right”.

What do you feel has been a hindrance to your decision making? Leave a comment.



Categories: Leadership

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7 replies

  1. Very true… Firstly, I like the idea of engaging in the topics for our mutual benefit. On this topic, I feel that perfection is definitely a hindrance in my decision making process, possibly the greatest even! Then I think fear of failure and also not always knowing the HOW in moving forward in a new direction. In the big picture, though, I have found that sometimes just making the decision as an ‘academic’ exercise precedes success in a new venture. In other words, just do it.

    I remember once in Ethiopia when we lived in a remote village and needed to build a long drop (outdoor toilet). I had such grandiose expectations of a pretty little closet, but my perfect ideas were a hindrance in getting the job done. Eventually we just did it and it ended up being quite ok! Except for the corn crickets… Yikes! But if I stuck with my ideas of perfection we would have spent years wondering into the bush with a trowel in hand:)

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  2. This is a great question. What is it about decisions that make them so difficult to make at times? I think, on one hand, its as you say: perfectionism and the fear of error. Decisions are always difficult for me for these reasons, and for me, this means managing internal and external expectations.

    On the other hand, I think the difficulty also comes from our poor ability to weigh up the scales with incomplete or limited available data. There’s always a sort of list of “pros and cons” but I can never seem to satisfactorily calculate the sum of them. An interesting idea is presented in Malcom Gladwell’s Blink. Split-second decisions, termed “thin -slicing”, are not really conscious but subconscious decisions and are often remarkably precise. Our brain’s subconscious scale appears more fine tuned that the conscious one. Could relying more on split-second decisions than carefully weighed decisions be a worthy virtue to develop?

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    • Thanks for the comment! I know exactly what you mean when you refer to trying to calculate all the pros and cons. Malcom Gladwell’s take is interesting and split second decisions seem to have a very important place in decision making, but there’s a flip side too. Daniel Kahneman, in his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” actualy demonstrates how it is sometimes an inherent laziness in our minds that causes us to make quick decisions, which turn out to not really be the best ones. He says a lot about this, but to put it simply the one point he makes is that our brains tend to take shortcuts when we think so as to save energy (good for repetitive tasks like brushing teeth, not so good for new and complicated tasks). So to answer your question…I don’t know really, perhaps there is no definitive “yes” or “no” answer, maybe the answer is more in “if” and “when”..if that makes any sense..

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      • I’ve never read “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. Sounds very interesting, especially the idea of inherent laziness in quick decisions. I read Blink a long time ago but I remember him discussing when “blinking” can have a negative effect, like when making split-second but prejudiced decisions as a salesman. I think, as you say, it depends on “if” and “when”.

        I think certain decisions in new situations with no previous experiences are better made with logic, but other decisions are actually suited to intuition. You could say split second decisions come from memories. Just like background body movements come from interacting neural networks and reflexes. If we tried to consciously control how we walk or talk and somehow supressed all the subconscious reflexes it would be incredibly rigid and slow. I think this is what we sometime do when making certain decisions. The benefit of split-second decisions comes from this “intuition” build from previous memories and subconscious connections. I think Gladwell also mentions that this intuition can be practiced and improved on, just like the art of standup comedy. Sometimes relinquishing control of decisions to the subconscious can be beneficial. I wonder if this isn’t related to when we talk about making a decision from the “heart”? Could go on about this for ages. Thanks for your thought-provoking post.

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  3. @RVA check out blinkist.com thats where i got the info in the book. I think you answered your previous question 🙂 It may be related to making decisions from the heart, but there might be other factors involved there like personal values, emotions, worldview etc. Not to mention the Holy Spirit who would obviously also trump any concious or subconcious decision.

    Thanks for your though provoking comments!

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