Indecision & Being Stuck
When your brain lies to you.
Think about a decision you are not making. Right now. Bring it to the front of you mind. Let it rattle around there for a few moments. What’s causing the delay in making the decision?
And when you think about it in general, how decisive are you? At work or home, is there a difference? How much information do you need to feel comfortable making a choice? Big or small. Lettuce or kale? Which candidate to choose? How to “rate” your employee on a review? Whether to leave your job? Change careers?
What happens when we can’t decide? Or rather when we don’t. Sometimes our brain derails us, it tells us we’re “stuck”. But this is sadly, a lie. We are choosing inaction. And we must determine why. That’s part of self-awareness, emotional adulthood.
Not making a decision is making a decision, and so much of the time that has a negative impact on our stress and life. Because the lack of closure affects our mind, that information and choices rattling around like a pinball, the thoughts keep pressing on our brains, and we think that if we just think MORE, we’ll get the right answer. Is there a right answer?
Because when you make a decision you are making it on the information you have right now. So, decide and have your own back. Move forward. The other option is to endlessly wonder if you’ll make the right one or if you made the right one. And what does that even mean? When is a decision absolutely correct or made with 100% certainty? If you think about it for a few days, a week, or a year, how substantially will the outcome change?
Are you not deciding because you don’t want the possible negative consequences of your decision or because you truly don’t have all the information to make a decision. And again, I am not saying the right one, because the right one is only right in the context of hindsight.
Write down 3 things you “cannot” decide. What would happen if you had to decide on those three things today? What would you decide? That is your gut. That is your brain knowing the answer but telling you not to take action. Why? Because there are always consequences to our decisions. And we may not like those consequences.
In my career, I’ve had to exit some people from organizations. I’ve had to put people on performance plans. It was never fun or pleasant. When I had to decide to do it, there was a fair amount of stress and consternation. But it was my job to manage performance and achieve results. And if I didn’t make those choices, I was not upholding my job as a manager or leader. I was letting the organization down, the team down and that individual down. Because they were not succeeding in their role. I could procrastinate, but only with negative consequences (my stress level didn’t decrease with the lack of action, it merely magnified and prolonged it).
I remember a 4th of July celebration at a public park. There was a young man who I had exited from the company I was working for….and he and his wife and small daughter ended up (unbeknownst to them I think!) sitting by my sister and me. After a time, the small girl came and stuck out her tongue at me. Then they moved. So, several years later, there was still resentment for my actions. My choices. My decisions. And though I felt pretty crappy in the moment, I knew I had done the right thing. For him and his family. Even though they didn’t like me for it. I couldn’t have altered his performance, only he could decide to do that. And he decided (whether he knew it or not) not to.
Leadership is challenging. And rewarding. It means being clear on the direction and helping people to follow your lead. Fraught with choices that are yours to make. Decisions that are also yours to make. Or not. And that’s noticeable to others.
And that’s the way we create our legacy.
Though action, forward progress and achieving results. Or stagnate and stay stuck. Said no one ever.
What will you decide today?