Dive in, the water’s fine (or do you make decisions too slowly?)

Photo courtesy of Easylocum (Creative Commons)

When I was on the swim team as a teenager, there were a lot of morning practices when the water was COLD, but we still had to get in and do our laps. There was one girl who would dangle her feet for a while, and then slide in up to her stomach, and then eventually, dip her shoulders in.

I found that instead of trying to get used to it a little at a time, it was best to just dive in and get that shock over with. Then for the rest of the practice, the water felt fine.

I have to admit that in many decisions I face in life, I act like that other girl and test the water by inching in when I should just take the plunge and jump – times when I delay instead of moving ahead.

I am a planner, so I tend to make sure everything is in place before I move on things, and that can mean missed opportunities. Plus, I prolong the discomfort by agonizing over a decision for a long period of time. I am amazed at the sense of relief when I have made a quick decision.

As a leader on your work team or in your family, you owe it to those you lead to be decisive. I have learned a few actions that can help you move your team forward:

  • Worry doesn’t work: “dangling” too long causes us to become frozen by the indecision, and that can influence other decisions. We also paralyze our team because they cannot move forward.
  • Determine your options: gather “enough” information to have several options. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive since seeking too many options can just be procrastination.
  • Consider worst case scenarios: consider the worst that can happen with each option, and also with no decision. Not as bad as you thought, right?
  • Make the decision: pick an option and go for it. Even if it’s not ideal, you are moving forward and can adjust from there.

As you get more comfortable with the decision-making process, the timeframe for gathering your options and looking at the worst case will shorten, so your resolution speed will increase.

On an individual level, you will be more productive and less agitated by indecision hanging over you.

On a work or group level, you can get your team involved by asking them to bring you the options for a decision, and asking their input. What a trust building exercise that would be, especially as you teach them what you consider before making a decision.

In what area(s) of your life do you need to dive in and make quicker decisions?

2 thoughts on “Dive in, the water’s fine (or do you make decisions too slowly?)

  1. Love this Carol. Are you spying on me? ;0) This is exactly like me. Paralysis by analysis is a great way to not get things done. I need to balance thinking and considering options with overcoming fear and thinking of all the “what ifs”. Great post!!!

    • It’s awful trying to find the right balance, isn’t it? What continues to amaze me is the great sigh of relief I have when I finally do make that decision and wonder why on earth I took so long! Thanks for commenting!

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