So you have ideas. Multiple ideas in fact. Enough that you can’t do them all at once, so you don’t start on any of them.
You’ve tried to work out how to decide for a while. But nothing is quite clicking.
(What if you make the wrong choice? What if you get bored? How can you let go of the other ideas and just start?)
Even when you’ve reconciled with the revelation that you don’t have to do all your ideas at once (ie: start one or two now, then start another in 6 months’ time), even then you’re still stuck. I mean, how can you decide which one to start on first? Now? Today?
I’d like to flip this around and ask:
How are you managing to not decide?
Let’s imagine an alien from Planet Decisive came down with a clipboard and cornered you on a popular shopping street (some things are the same everywhere in the galaxy), adjusted her antennae-spectacles and said: “tell me: what exactly are the steps you take to ‘not decide’?”
You look confused at this question.
You see, she explains, her people are impressed at how a special subset of humans (of which you are a part of) manage this incredible feat of ‘not deciding’ each and every day.
To her people, this ‘not deciding’ takes incredible willpower. On her planet, there are courses on how to sit with 3 or more exciting options yet do none of them even though you want to. So, she concludes, she would really like you to share your secrets with them, if you would be so kind.
Assuming I wasn’t in a hurry to escape a clipboard wielding alien, here’s how I might answer this.
First I’d talk her through all the things I do instead of deciding. The distractions, the ‘suddenly very important’ things that crop up instead of working it out (oh my, what a dusty shelf! Must clean).
Then, I’d go through the mindset. The fear of getting it wrong. The clenching feeling of “oh crap but what if none of them are good enough anyway?”. That moment of desperation where you feel that if you let the other ideas go, even to shelve them for 6 months, then you’ll be bereft. In short, I explain to the bespectacled alien that I simply can’t stand the idea of doing just one thing…. and that’s that.
She looks up from her clipboard, purses her lips and says “yes that’s all very well and good – those are the same approaches the Indecisiveness experts up on my planet talk about too. But I’m here because some of us have read all the books on the topic, attended courses, learned all the so-called best approaches, but we still find it very hard to do in practice. Tell me, there must be something you DO, some system or strategy for not deciding…. ”
I look blank
Cocking her head to the side she frowns and says “what I mean is, when it comes down to the moment where you could decide, or not decide, how do you do it?”
To which I can only answer: “I just do”.
As she shakes her head I realize I’d like her advice too. So I ask her: “tell me… how do you decide?”
“Well,” she replies, perking up “I weigh up the options, and consider both the…”
“No, sorry” I interrupt “I meant it just the way you asked me: when it comes down to the moment where you could decide or not decide, how do you do it?”
“Ah” she smiles “I suppose I just do”.
Can you stand that thought?
I’ve been thinking lately about the truth of the words “I can’t stand it”.
“I can’t stand not doing all of my ideas!” being the phrase we use in these situations. But is that true?
If you’re staying in indecision for months then I would suggest that you are standing it all right. You are standing it every day you are not doing all those things. You’re standing it every day you aren’t doing any of them.
What’s more, the truth is that you will keep standing it until something gives. And while you’re standing it, odds are you’ll be as frustrated as heck.
If you’d like to really and truly not stand it? Something has to change.
One idea is to create a solution that encompasses enough of what you want so you aren’t letting things go, and you do ‘have it all’ in a way. But even then you have to decide to take a step.
If you struggle to do that my advice is a little controversial, but here it is:
Stop worshipping your ideas.
Honestly? I don’t give a damn about a good idea. I care about a good life. If you’re stuck in the temple of worshipping your ideas, you may want to consider how kind a ‘god’ they are being to you.
When you honour yourself, and your finite time on earth, above any vague concept of ‘a good idea’, you will start to find things shift. You may find yourself more willing to play with an idea, mould it to suit you, and then just before it’s ready, you may take the bespectacled alien’s advice and decide to just do it.
You’ll be shit scared, but trust me, it’s ride you want to take. The pay off is your life, lived in full colour.
Sounds like a darn good idea to me.