How to overcome decision paralysis

By boris, February 03, 2014

It happens to the best of us. Faced with a major decision (be it business, financial, life), we’re unsure of which way to go. Worried about making the wrong decision, we wait, do more research, seek more input…basically do anything besides make the decision and act on it. In many cases, the more choices we have, the more likely we are to freeze.

As an entrepreneur or investor, you can’t afford to freeze. I generally pride myself on being able to make very quick decisions based on both data and gut, but sometimes there’s just no conclusive evidence or gut feeling to guide the way.

Here are four techniques that I have used in order to get past this paralysis:

1. Let the decision sit for awhile: Sometimes you just need some extra time for an idea to percolate, and after a few days or weeks, the right path will become more clear.

2. Talk to somebody: a small comment or bit of advice from someone else can often solve the puzzle in your head. In other cases, just the act of talking about the situation out loud provides an instant revelation of what to do.

3. Pro-con list: I’ll admit that this is probably the least effective method for me, as a decision is often not just a simple list of reasons for and against. But for some, the process of writing out the pros and cons helps distill their thinking.

4. Minimize your regrets: Here’s the principle that I’ve really started to embrace. Ask yourself the following: If you look back at this decision 10 years from now, which path will you most regret not having taken?  For example, think about the decision to stay on a safe career path vs. starting a company that has a huge potential upside but also very high risks. Rather than just focusing on minimizing risk, I like to take the approach of minimizing potential regrets when faced with a hard decision.

What do you do to overcome decision paralysis?

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