Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom - Analysis Paralysis

"As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it." 
- Buddy Hackett 
In the 14-person yours-mine-and-ours family I grew up in, there weren't any choices about what we were having for breakfast: Monday was pancake day; Tuesday it was oatmeal; Wednesday we had scrambled eggs; we ate cold cereal on Thursday because that's the day we all changed our bedsheets; Friday was french toast; Saturday it was rice cereal; and on Sunday we had to fend for ourselves, which usually meant danishes or cold cereal again. It was an era of three TV channels, three car companies, single-employer careers, and life-long marriages. There were fewer options back then.
Those simpler times have given way to a world in which we are bombarded with seemingly unlimited choices for virtually everything, from food to entertainment to transportation to employment to relationships. In the midst of this "abundance," we can feel overwhelmed trying to sort out all the opportunities. We may find ourselves stuck in "analysis paralysis," unable to move forward in the face of too many possibilities. What do we do when we have so many choices? How do we winnow through a proliferation of alternatives and identify the best way to go?  

The approach that works for me is to write down all the possibilities and then ask myself, "What are the two best ideas here?" Two is manageable; twelve is not. I"ve found there is something magical about choosing the top two. Once those champions go head to head, their strengths and weaknesses can be evaluated and their ultimate outcomes can be visualized. I can sort through the pros and cons. That leads to clarity and confidence. That in turn leads to action and results.

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