Analysis paralysis is becoming a real problem. We’re so taken with opportunity, we fear making a choice. Losing what may be in favour of what you choose can start to hurt. It breeds melancholia. And it eventually takes that plethora of choice away. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Humans are not designed to cope with more than 4 options at any given time. Yet we crave choice. Boundaries serve us so much better. The structure that helps us create. The anchor that gives us something to return to. The rules that form the story. The productivity found within keeping to a schedule.
You can’t change your past. It is done, dusted and finished. You can’t cry for lost loves or blame people for the education you never gave yourself. Blaming society for keeping you down only serves to press your face further into the mud.
The future is a world of unknown. You can plan towards a future you would prefer. You can try and write all the maps and plans you like. But there are disruptions and breaks. Challenges that test us are a part of asking for what we want and need in life. There is no such thing as friction free living.
And the future remains hidden. There is no answer book waiting to be plucked from the sky.
This is not the negative it is often perceived to be.
What you do have is the present. You have the ability to choose to make a change. Or you can ignore it and keep going. There is freedom available to you in the choices you make. You can do things now that influence future outcomes.
You can realise your situation sucks and you can decide what you can and can’t realistically do to change it.
But one thing remains for certain. If your life sucks and you don’t make a decision to change anything, it’ll continue to suck. You don’t rectify a situation by employing the same strategy that lead to it. Succumbing to analysis paralysis won’t help you make the change you desire.
You may have smaller and larger decisions that will at some point cry out for a lion share of your headspace. Job opportunities, where to live, who to love, the person you want to be, travels that invite, ideas that please, moments that tempt.
Possibilities can be endless. And the fear of missing out on something wonderful by choosing one over the other is scary.
But until you select something on the list and start towards crossing it off, your list of possibilities will remain just that: a list of dreams. And they’ll become a list of dreams that will sour and bite you if you are not careful.
If making a decision is hard, remember dealing with the consequences of stagnation is a far greater burden.
We all feel melancholy for the choices we make. The ‘what if’ haunts us. We mourn for the opportunity lost.
But at a certain point, sitting side saddle in your life will erode your confidence. Being unable to make a decision about your future, relationships, livelihood and identity will cost you.
And as much as this may hurt, there are far worse things to live through than the pain of absence.
That melancholy for lost choices soon becomes an ebbing tide of melancholy for a life un-lived. The wanting to stay available to the 5 options presented may become the story of the one that got away.
Melancholia becomes regret. And regret becomes a punishment to one’s self for a lack of action. The kinder, gentler motion is to pull the rip cord. To go into free fall.
Because if you break with a sad past and a dark present, at least you’ve removed a set of talons from your flesh and can fly somewhere else.
Even if that somewhere else is unknown, it’s better than casting a still shadow on a past that is already too murky to see through.
Inactivity is like rust. Think of that old rat-rusted Kombi in a field. It looks fantastic is the coffee table books, surrounded by golden heads of wheat and rusting into decay.
But if it was sentient, do you really think that rusted, inactive car would choose admiration for its decay? Wouldn’t it prefer the freedom of open roads, new adventures and good times?
So how do you stop yourself from being stuck by your own desire to not make a choice? How do you stop yourself from being that rat-rusted kombi in a field, only fit for a coffee table book?
At a certain point, analysis paralysis becomes a choice. It becomes an option that allows us to jump off the hook, let things slide and avoid the choice conundrum altogether.
But remembering the beauty of choice as opposed to focussing on the burden can help. Think about the times where you thought you made the wrong decision that lead you to the right place to be later on. Or the times when a choice lead to happiness and contentment.
Choice is given to us so we can learn from our mistakes and prosper from the knowledge we apply. Only our attitude to life, freedom and the choices available to us will define what is a negative or positive outcome.
There will always be things in life you forego to take advantage of the things you go after. There isn’t a person alive who hasn’t had to choose between something else of equal appeal at some point.
But the reality is you can’t do everything. You cannot satiate 100 people doing 100 things each day. Nor can you date 7 women, have 4 jobs or live in 2 different countries.
Motion is what propels us forward. It also stops the mouse from being struck down by the snake. Think about what you need to do, but don’t become so caught up in the thought that over-thinking is all you achieve.
Step out of your head. Choose something to do. And do it.
Be kinder to yourself and the rest will follow, trust me.
Tags: analysis paralysis, business, depression, mental health, motivation, problem solving, productivity, work
After growing up in a dusty farming district where happy moments were few and far between, Rebekah packed a bunch of books and headed off in pursuit of education, the sea and a sense of anonymity that simply can’t be found in a town of 200.
Keenly aware she was an outsider, Rebekah attempted to discover happiness via five universities, island living, and all the wrong kind of activities before she triumphantly discovered she was potentially the happiest marketing nerd alive.
Rebekah has carved out a career through connecting people. She spent over seven years working in the dating industry, has worked agency-side in the tough Asian advertising world, and now freelances in marketing and content creation for community, social enterprise and startup ideas.
When she isn’t listening to prog and post rock as it pours out of her partner’s guitar, she’s connecting women as the Head of Disruption for Discordia Zine, marketing and writing as Unashamedly Creative, advocating for freelancer happiness via the Freelance Jungle, or being reminded that life is random, creative and silly by her Labrador, Gibson.
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