The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision. (Maimonides)
Have you ever been caught in an agony of indecision? Stuck on the horns of a dilemma? Sat on the fence for an uncomfortably long time?
If so (and we’ve all been there), you’ll know that it’s not good. Think of how you felt while you struggled to make up your mind. Tired? Negative? On edge? Indecision takes up a lot of mental energy for no result. It stops you from sleeping and saps your motivation. It is a barren and unproductive no-man’s land.
I’ve had very direct personal experience of this. Some of you might recall when I was rowing Stage 2 of the Pacific voyage, and having a huge dilemma about whether to aim for my original destination of Tuvalu, or whether to change course for Tarawa. It was a horrible time of uncertainty and dithering that nearly drove me crazy, and certainly led to some less-than-whole-hearted rowing shifts. But as you’ll see in this blog post, when I finally committed to a decision, it was as if a weight had been lifted.
Was it the right decision? Who knows? And in fact, who cares? So often indecision arises because of – or is unnecessarily extended by – fear of making the wrong decision. I’d like to release you from that fear, by suggesting that there is no such thing.
What if you adopted the attitude that whatever course you choose, you will stand by that choice and make it work out, no matter what? And the beauty is that you’ll never know what would have happened if you had chosen that other path.
Here’s another thought for you – people who plump for a decision and stick to it (“satisficers”) are generally happier than those who obsess about making the “right” decision, and even once the decision is made, return to it again and again like a dog chewing on an old bone (“maximisers”). There’s a great post about this on Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project website, and here’s a link to a helpful article on how to make good decisions in everyday life.
1. Tell yourself that there is no such thing as a wrong decision.
2. Make your choice, and more importantly, commit to that choice.
3. Then move on and don’t look back.
In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.