Action over Paralysis, Getting Unstuck

The paralysis that comes with the hindrance of striving to be a perfectionist and over-analyzing your situation can be one of the most frustrating hurdles to overcome.  I’ve written here before about the dangers of being a perfectionist.  It’s not that the idea of doing your best is flawed.  Doing your best in everything you do is a high standard that is worth pursuing.  It’s only as we raise our standards that we raise the quality of our life.  But that’s not what’s at play here.  I’m talking about the kind of mental and emotional paralysis that comes from always wanting to make the right decision, so much so, that you get stuck in the decision making process and can’t move forward. This often happens the most when we are faced with two seemingly good options.   That’s when we tend to get caught in the emotional rollercoaster that seemingly leads us nowhere.  Let’s face it, when the choice is obvious because one of the options is demonstrably lesser, the choice is already made for us already.  But when faced with two seemingly equal choices, that’s where it gets sticky.  “Which one is the right choice?  Which one is the best decision?”  We list out the pros and cons and they come up equal.  We begin to make arguments for both directions in our mind and in our pursuit of the best we get completely stuck, continually moving from the argument for the one to the other and back again.

This can happen in small decisions, like which meal to order off the menu.  Have you experienced this before or seen it go down?  You or someone you know is hopping back and forth on the menu, between two dinner options, both of which will be good.  But a decision isn’t made until it’s forced to because the waiter is waiting so long, standing there with pen and pad in hand.  Or two events fall on the same day or weekend on the calendar and you just can’t figure out which is the ‘best’ or ‘right’ event to commit to.  And what about what you’ll miss if you don’t choose the ‘right’ event?  It also happens in larger areas like job opportunities or even dating possibilities.

Now admittedly there is usually a lot more going on behind the scenes than just being faced with the option of two great choices.  Often times there is a lack of clarity on what we actually want, not just specifically, but in general.  Or there is an overwhelming fear when we make any decision because we’ve been conditioned to value the fear of the possibility of making a mistake over the value of action or progress.  Fortunately the answer is a solution that addresses all of these paralysis factors.

And what is that answer?

Action.  Action is the way forward.  If you have a decision you have to make, make it.   It’s really that simple.  If you have two seemingly equal choices, simply move forward with one of them.  Let me give you a few reasons why action is such a beautiful way forward.

Action is a catalyst for energy.  Don’t sit in paralysis and allow the energy that could be used for progress to be wasted in the endless loop of analysis.  Nothing opens us up to the flow of energy in our lives like taking action.  Action begets more action.  And the more action we take the more energized we tend to feel.

Action is where we learn.  We can make all kinds of guesses as to the outcome of our decisions, but it is in actually making a decision and moving forward that we begin to truly learn in life.  When we are in action we see the outcomes, literally, and we can use that experience to inform our future decisions.

There is no failure; there is only the result.  When faced with two good choices, failure is eliminated.  Unless… you spend all of your time wondering what you missed by not choosing the other option.  But that’s a terrible way to spend your thoughts and time.  Once you make your decision, commit to it and live into that decision.

Here’s a final thought.  You are allowed to change your mind.  Let’s say you’ve made a decision and taken action and now you are realizing that this clearly wasn’t the choice you wanted to make.  Next time choose the other.  It can be that simple if you let it.  And be grateful for the experience you did have and for what you learned from it.  You don’t have to be stuck.  Choose action.

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"Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking." - William B. Sprague

"In any situation, the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing." - Theodore Roosevelt

"Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all." - Norman Vincent Peale