Several years ago, my son and I had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory restaurant in San Diego. It’s a great restaurant, but it takes me forever to decide on a meal because it has a 20-page menu – and everything is good.
This particular night, Tim picked up the menu, glanced at the first page for about ten seconds, and put it back on the table.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Nothing. I’ve already decided what I want.”
“But you’ve only looked at one page,” I countered.
“Right. I’ve learned to just read through the menu from the beginning until I find something that looks good, and that’s what I get. The next time we come here, I’ll start from that place in the menu and move forward and do it again.”
I think that’s a healthy way to live.
Have you ever been “stuck” in a tough decision, and you couldn’t figure out what to do? It could be anything from selecting a project team, to considering a new job, to buying a new car to moving to a new house.
Or it could be as simple as deciding what to order for dinner.
- There’s more than one option, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each one.
- You’re afraid that if you make the wrong choice, you’ll regret it later.
- You’ve asked others for advice, and everyone tells you something different.
- You’re worried what others will think if you make either choice.
Somebody called it “paralysis by analysis.” It’s when you don’t want to make a mistake, so you don’t make a decision.
The fear of regret keeps you from moving forward, so you get stuck in neutral.
If one choice has an outcome that’s obviously better than the other, it’s a no-brainer. But what should you do when both options would be OK?
- You study both sides.
- You consider what you’ll gain from making either choice.
- You consider what you’ll lose from making either choice.
- You take a walk to clear your head.
- If the options are still about equal, you follow a simple principle:
Don’t worry about making the right decision.
Make a decision, then make it right.
Once you make the choice, don’t look back.
Sure, you’ll miss the benefits of the other choice. But once the decision is final, it frees you to put 100% of your energy into making that decision the best choice.
It’s time to put down the menu and enjoy the meal.