Have you ever filled a website “shopping cart” but not made a purchase?
Have you researched and compared 20+ varieties of an item or service (cellphone plan, vacation destination, hair dryer, mechanic) and still can’t narrow down which one you should go with?
That, my friend, is analysis paralysis at it’s finest. When we are faced with too many options - and the internet always has too many options – we can become overwhelmed and overstimulated by all the prospects laid before us. Analysis paralysis leads to decision fatigue and decision fatigue usually ends in overwhelm and shut down.
So, what do we end up doing? Nothing.
We Research the Heck Out of Everything and Still Have Trouble Making a Decision
TRUE STORY: I once left a grocery store without buying ketchup. Not because I forgot
it but because there were so many options I couldn’t choose. There were organic, no
sugar added, sweet, low-sodium, spicy and even crazy colors varieties. Faced with too
many choices I ended up not buying any. I think I would have been better off grocery
shopping at a gas station convenient store. One ketchup option, no decisions.
I have done a lot of self-work since then and can now successfully negotiate the condiment aisle. Why are we so indecisive? Remember number four on my list of Lesser Known HSP Traits, “We Can Be Perfectionists?” (Click here to read that blog) A lot of it relates to that factor.
We don’t want to make the wrong decision, so we “solve” that dilemma by not making a
decision. You can’t do something wrong if you don’t do it all, right?
What to do when you struggle with decision making?
1. Limit your options
Let’s go back to the example in the opening paragraph, choosing a hair dryer. Technically, you could scroll through beauty blogs, read Amazon reviews, and even ask your friends or hair stylist what they recommend. However, if you did that to the fullest extent, you wouldn’t have a new hair dryer for another few years. And that is only if you dedicated all of your time and attention to that task of narrowing down your search to the best hair dryer.
If you find you struggle with making a confident decision, try this. Next time you need to make a purchase that requires research, try and limit yourself to reading only a set number of reviews or only allowing yourself a certain amount of time to gather data. Then, use only that information to make your decision and stick with it.
2. Remember that most decisions are not permanent
I’m not talking about big decisions like adopting a child. Instead, I’m talking about what airline to fly or where to eat. If you don’t allow yourself to read every last Yelp review and end up picking a restaurant that you don’t like, it’s not the end of the world. Yes, you have wasted a little money and identified a place that you won’t dine at again.
The quest for information is a relentless pursuit. usually driven by our perfectionism and fear of making the wrong decision. While research and attention to detail can be invaluable in our highly sensitive life, it can also be a double-edged sword.
There comes a point where we need to trust our instincts (HSPs are very intuitive) and embrace any wrong decisions we might make along the way. Remember, everything is a learning experience!
Once we accept that there is no perfect decision, only the best one for that moment, then we can liberate ourselves and make a darn choice already.