What’s your default: dither or do?
You’ve probably known a champion ditherer. He makes up his mind, then changes it, then changes it again, then reconsiders, then goes off in a different direction…until you want to just give him a good shake, and say, “Decide, already!!”
Perhaps you’ve even seen this person in the mirror.
Dithering is probably one of the best ways to trash your productivity, confidence, and revenues. When you struggle to stick with a decision, you open yourself up to:
- missed opportunities
- bulging, overwhelming email inboxes
- long hours worked with little to show for it
- damaged relationships
Other than that, it’s not such a bad thing.
The opposite of dithering is decisiveness: the ability to assess a situation or potential activity based on clear criteria, choose your course of action, and move forward with it. Of course, if you take it to an extreme, you’re likely to experience some nasty outcomes:
- finding yourself committed to a course of action that’s not in your best long-term interests
- wasting money on a product or program you don’t actually use
- damaging relationships
In other words, both dithering and decisiveness can work against you. The trick is to combine prudent consideration of options with a willingness to make a choice and commit to it.
So how do you manage to get the best of both worlds? How do you keep your options open enough, but not too much? How do you avoid the trap of making decisions just to get them off your plate?
Here are some ways to start creating an effective, dynamic equilibrium between dithering and doing.
It’s a sad but true element of running a business: You won’t – you can’t – always make optimal decisions. But the desire to can result in no decision at all, which means you’ll end up staying stuck right where you are.
When reluctant to make a “wrong” decision, bolster your courage by reminding yourself that doing something imperfectly is better than doing nothing perfectly.
It’s also easy for high-achieving entrepreneurs to hesitate to act on something new because – let’s face it – who wants to feel like a klutz when you’re used to performing at a high level?
Flexibility + courage + action = success.
I was faced with this situation recently. I was telling my sister about my intention to create a series of short, three- to five-minute videos featuring some of my best productivity, marketing, and mindset tips. I’d been fretting about learning the nuts and bolts of making videos and was reluctant to tackle the tech end of the project. But what ended up happening was that, as I was speaking to her, I started playing with the camera and ended up figuring out just how to do the recording. It took very little time and was far easier than I’d been fearing.
Courage is our friend. And as you build your courage, you’ll have an easier time implementing the second strategy.
This is a challenging one for me, because I’ll sometimes find myself thinking, “But what if I don’t move on this and it turns out it would have been really valuable?” That can make it difficult to ignore an enticing offer or an invitation to “learn more”.
This type of “What if?”thinking doesn’t serve anyone well, because it’s based in fear and a scarcity mentality. If I catch myself thinking this way, I take a deep breath and remind myself I can always bookmark the link or put the idea in a future file, and that’s it’s unlikely this resource will never, ever come my way again.
If you choose to trust that what you need will reappear at a time when you’re really willing to move on it, decisiveness becomes easier and less scary. Those countless windows you have open because you’ll maybe get to them? Gone. Those piled-up emails with offers you think you maybe “should” look into? Gone. The continual erosion of peace of mind and confidence that comes with un-acted-on To Do items sneering at you? Gone.
Being ruthless about what to let go of is made easier if you commit to strategy number three.
The reason this so often shows up in my posts is because it’s such a vital concept.
Are you clear on what key goal a particular action will serve? Are you clear on how it will propel you forward? If not, you shouldn’t be spending your precious time on it.
And yet, not every opportunity can be clearly and immediately identified as worthwhile or not. You want to be prudent in your decision-making process; you just don’t want it to drag out endlessly. To be both thorough and timely, apply strategy number four.
Be on the clock.
Decide how long you’ll give yourself to commit to a decision on a given course of action. It could be 24 hours, 48 hours, a week….it all depends on what’s up for consideration.
The important thing is to choose a due date for your decision, then enlist the aid of some compassionately ruthless accountability buddies to ensure you meet that due date. You might remember Yoda’s advice, too: “Do or do not. There is no ‘try’.”
Which of these sounds like it would suit you best? Is there more than one?
Maybe they all sound like good ideas, but it’s a case of “easier said than done.” If that’s where you’re at, maybe I can help with the “doing” part.
I specialize in getting talented entrepreneurs out of “stuck” mode, so that they know and implement what’s important for their business success.
I’m certainly not the right resource for every entrepreneur, nor is every entrepreneur the right client for me. The way to find out if you and I would be a good fit is with a no-risk, no-charge, get-acquainted call. We’ll ask and answer some questions and confidently come to a go/no go/go later decision that’s right for both of us.
If that sounds worth exploring, grab a spot in my calendar and we’ll see what shakes out.
Hint: If you find yourself pondering and pondering this, that means it’s a perfect opportunity to practice decisiveness. Neither one of us will be committed to anything by talking, so what do we have to lose?
(BTW, thanks to Billie Grace Ward for the image of indecision; I found it in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in success factors and tagged effectiveness, procrastination. Bookmark the permalink.