Just Do It!

“Just Do It!” is an antidote to procrastination. One cause of procrastination is trying to ensure that we expend resources most wisely – to not make a mistake. But trying to decide between two disparate choices can lead to paralysis by analysis – not being able to decide which is the better choice. So instead of making a decision and potentially being “wrong” about our choice, we delay. And we beat ourselves up because we couldn’t decide, and we’re not achieving results. This just increases the pressure to decide without adding any information to help us make our decision.

There is an alternative. When I am teaching high performing teams about fishbone diagrams and the 5 whys, I tell them that it doesn’t matter very much which fishbone they choose to go down – the other paths will still be there when they’re done with their first choice. The same is true for most other choices – there is frequently no “wrong” choice – just the question of which one we work on first. The others will still be there.

The root of the word “decide” is Latin, meaning “kill” – it is also the root for “homicide”. In deciding, we are “killing” all the alternatives that we did not choose. So the fear of making a bad decision is natural, especially if we have been criticized for our decisions previously. However, in many cases, the choices are neither right nor wrong – they are just choices. For example, when you visit an ice cream shop – do you want chocaholic’s delight, or wild huckleberry, or toffee butter pecan, or any of the other delicious flavors? Whatever you choose, you will enjoy. The others will be there the next time you visit the shop.

Suggestion – instead of “deciding” (which means killing the non-chosen alternatives), can you “choose” instead? Whether you “decide” or “choose”, you are indeed selecting one alternative over all others. The difference is psychological. Choosing does not have to carry irrevocability as its sub-meaning. To me, “choose” seems more like I am selecting that which aligns most closely with my values. No matter which term you use, select an alternative. Then do it. Then observe what happens to your energy level as you make progress because you chose to take action. So, perhaps the “real” choice is this: action and results and feeling good about yourself, or analysis paralysis and feeling bad about yourself. Your choice J

I’d welcome your feedback.

Gary Langenwalter

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