Life is filled with choices. We make them all day every day. Some are easy; others are hard. Some have serious consequences; others don’t. One thing most of us learn as we gain life experience is that decisions tend to be easier when we have fewer choices. Let’s take something simple, like breakfast: if you’re at home and your options are a bagel or a bowl of cereal, then your choice should be relatively easy.
If you agonize over that one, then I’m not sure I can help you – that’s a different kettle of fish. However, if you’re in an excellent breakfast place with great food and your options seem limitless, then things get more complicated. Omelets, pancakes, biscuits, huevos rancheros, French toast, yogurt with fresh organic fruit – they all speak to your belly and you want them all. A little bit of waffling is completely understandable.
But you have to choose one.
In that scenario, what most of us do is slow down, think it through, and make a good decision. We know the world isn’t going to end if we tell the server, “I think I need another minute to decide.” There’s no reason to be hasty.
Now let’s transpose this situation to one that’s more consequential than breakfast. A business decision, a life-trajectory decision, or a serious relationship decision. One where there are several options, and none of them seem to recommend themselves over any other.
A common mistake people make when facing big decisions with multiple options is they rush. They’re afraid things are going to fall apart if they don’t make a choice as soon as possible. Unlike the restaurant scenario, they don’t take time to evaluate their options. They get in a frantic tizzy. They shoot first and ask questions later. This almost always ends up in a net-loss, because the choice is made from fear and anxiety rather than clarity and confidence.
Watch and Wait
Here’s the solution: don’t act until one of your options moves to the foreground and the others recede into the background. Be patient. Exercise restraint. Watch for movement. Wait for the moment one choice emerges as the clear and obvious favorite, then act on that one. That way you won’t be stuck with a rash decision made in haste.
Instead, you’ll achieve the best outcome with the least effort.
I call that a win, no matter the scenario.