Anything that you don’t decide on today will be left for you to have to decide on tomorrow. Not only that, but of course it will be in addition to the heap of new choices that you will be confronted with simply from it being a new day with new opportunities.
Indecision = Procrastination
As it turns out, “never having time” is less the result of having too much to do and is more often the manifestation of our inability to make decisions and take action on yesterday’s stuff. Yes my friend, indecision is just one more subtle form of procrastination.
We wait to make decisions because we’re scared that we’ll make the wrong decisions. We wait because we fool ourselves into thinking that it will be easier to make a decision tomorrow than it will be to make that same decision today. We wait because given the option, we generally default to putting off anything that is difficult – and that applies to difficult decisions as well.
This pattern of indecision leads not only to procrastination but also ultimately to yielding power and control of our own lives. Like a rafter with no paddle, we end up giving way to the drifting current with no way to really dictate the direction of our destiny.
Our attention floats to whatever shows up in front of us, we forget about what is really important, and over time the opportunities that we delayed on eventually disappear into a quiet past.
So why should we just make up our mind now instead? Because:
1. Indecision costs more than the wrong decision does. When we take action and it doesn’t work the way we want it, at least we know and we can correct the course. But when we wait for the perfect time, the perfect amount of information, and the perfect set of circumstances we end up missing our chance to capitalize because that perfect time never comes. That is why my friend and pastor Pete Wilson often says “the cost of missing out is always greater than the cost of messing up.” Instead make a decision and test it. Find out for sure by taking action and letting the real results serve as the evidence for the correct or incorrect choice to make.
2. It frees up your mental capacity. Having lots of decisions to make is kind of like having a lot of traffic on a highway – things get congested, unclear, and slow. Being able to make decisions quickly is like adding lanes to a highway in that it allows you to keep your mind clear and moving quickly. Not having a lot of decisions to make also enables you to focus more of your mental and emotional energy on the one or two new decisions right in front of you so that you can make them quickly and confidently. This is a concept that productivity guru, David Allen sometimes refers to as “Psychic Bandwidth.”3. Self-leadership requires tough decision making. When I was in business school at The University of Denver, we once had a guest lecture from a CEO who said “One of the things that makes me the CEO is that I typically only have the benefit of being 40 percent sure that I’m making the right decision on something. Most people can’t learn to be comfortable in that situation.” As the CEO of our own lives, the same is true for you and me – we have to learn to be comfortable making decisions knowing that we will never have the gift of 100 percent certainty before we make the choice. That is why winners and leaders typically don’t worry as much about making the right decision as they do about making a decision and then making it right.
What decisions are you delaying on today? Ask yourself “is there additional information that I’ll have tomorrow that I don’t have right now?”
If the answer is “yes” then that probably creates an action item for you to take care of so that you can get what you need in order to make the decision.
However, if the answer is “no” then you’re guilty of allowing your prudence to turn into procrastination.
Read more about productivity.
Rory Vaden, MBA is Cofounder of Southwestern Consulting, Self-Discipline Strategist and Speaker, and New York Times bestselling author of Take the Stairs.
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