Overcoming the tyranny of indecision

In a state of indecision you don't go anywhere - you just spin thoughts around in your head; achieving absolutely nothing.

Good strategy is all about tradeoffs, and fully-committing oneself to just one key choice that will ultimately deliver the future that you want.

Sounds simple enough, but boldly moving forward into uncertainty is a bloody hard thing to do.

Which is why good strategy is so difficult and so rare.

Lots of entrepreneurs, innovators, leaders are besieged by indecision; I'd go so far to say that indecision and doubt are the default conditions of most people.

For many there is a real reluctance to commit to just one option, fearing that you might be 'committing to the wrong option'; and ending up, instead, being plagued by doubt and inaction.

This feels like being a hamster on a spinning wheel. Lots of stuff going on, but no forward movement.

Ironically then getting stuck in a cycle of indecision and doubt becomes far worse than committing to a single option, and ultimately failing at it.

At least in the process of making a choice, pursuing it with all of your energy and coming up short, you enabled your superpower of personal agency and learnt invaluable lessons along the way.

In a state of indecision you don't go anywhere - you just spin thoughts around in your head; achieving absolutely nothing.

When working with clients who are stuck in the tyranny of indecision - I often advise them that even moving forward in the wrong direction is far better than pursuing too many fragmented goals, or languishing with indecision.

Momentum itself (even in the wrong direction) is a wonderful thing, because it's far easier to adjust course and head in the right direction eventually once you are moving, than it is to simply get going from a standing start.

How can you overcome the tyranny of indecision?

  1. Acknowledge to yourself the real danger of indecision. Understand how your condition of not committing to a single choice if far worse than even whole-heartedly pursuing the wrong choice.
  2. Critically assess all of your options. Write them down on Post-It notes and put them all in front of you. Separate yourself from your options and evaluate them critically.
  3. Choose one that resonates. You can develop a simple decision-making framework as to how you make this choice based on your future intentions if this helps, but the idea is to select just one of the choices that you have available to you.
  4. Commit to it. Give yourself a year, or 6 months, or 3 months at least; but forsaking all other choices, commit yourself and all of your focus and energy to your choice. Commit or die.

Once you have gone through these steps, the final shift in how you frame this process is to understand that good strategy is not about certainty.

Let go of your need for certainty - there is no certainty, and trying to achieve it is self-destructive.

Your goal with this exercise is development, learning, momentum, forward-movement.

Finally - don't for a second think that indecision and doubt is in any way unique to you; we all struggle to commit to a single choice. But good things lie on the other side of this struggle, it's just a matter of making a leap of faith.