“More is lost by indecision than wrong decision. Indecision is the thief of opportunity, it will steal you blind.”
– Marcus Tullius Cicero
Indecision is a terribly nefarious thing. In our minds, we see the opportunity to make a better decision as absolutely compelling. Constantly and consistently, we’ll dedicate unreasonable amounts of time towards decisions which simply do not matter in the bigger picture. By this time tomorrow, I can assure you that it will make little difference which meal you had for lunch or which movie you chose to watch before bed. Still, we agonize over trivialities as if they were life-or-death.
For better or worse, our present life is blessed with choice well beyond reason. Whether it’s the movies and television available on Netflix, the vehicles at your nearest dealership, or even the choice of which career to pursue, our world is super-saturated. In the past, I’ve written to this affect as well, but it bears repeating: This level of choice is terrific except in the ways which we make it terrible.
The next time you find yourself paralyzed by indecision, ponder this: would you rather have lunch with your family or be stabbed repeatedly with a dull knife? It’s absurd, right? Hopefully, the decision is as immediate for you as it is for me. Of course, the reason this is such an easy choice is because one option is relaxing and satisfying while the other literally means a painful death. No reasonable person would hesitate in this situation. I use this example to make a point: decisions with meaningful consequences are easy to make.
Another tripping point for many is the belief that there is a “perfect” decision that simply has yet to be uncovered. While it may sound pessimistic, my experience is that perfect does not exist in this world. There are many truly great things to be seen, felt, and enjoyed, but there is nothing truly and wholly perfect. No matter the amount of time you commit to a decision, you’ll never arrive at a conclusion without some compromise. This one thought is so important that I hope you’ll forgive me for repeating it:
“No matter the amount of time you commit to a decision, you’ll never arrive at a conclusion without some compromise.”
Life has taught me that the difference between a “good” decision and a “great” one is absolutely nothing in comparison to the time you’ll waste in self-conflict. It’s a matter of diminishing returns, and this is true everywhere in life. If your best friend from high school graduates and immediately falls into a “good” job but you spend the next 10 years agonizing over life to finally uncover a “very good” career for yourself, is it worth the agony and anxiety? This is a question only you can answer for yourself, but I’d venture the guess that most people would take an “80% good” job and ten years of pay and contentment over an “85% good” job that gets started ten years late after great suffering.
While it’s a subject so deep that entire books have been written on the matter, the takeaway is that good enough often is just that. Don’t put your life on hold over trivial matters. Better yet, take a risk, and make a snap decision just to see what happens. Sometimes spontaneity can be surprisingly rewarding. Most importantly, remember that a critical, analytical mind is a valuable tool; make sure it is used by you and not against you.
Thank you for your time.