Decision fatigue is a real thing, what with those 35,000 we have to make each and every day. Iced or hot? Tall or grande? Two pumps or three? One shot or two? Coconut milk or almond? For here or to go? Credit or debit? And that’s just coffee.
My ex-boyfriend used to ask me if I wanted to watch an actual movie during our usual movie nights together. That’s because I would watch every single preview on Apple TV, paralyzed by indecision, and end up not picking anything, finally leaving it up to him, hours in, rather than face the prospect of choosing the “wrong” movie. What’s the worst that could have happened? I’d choose a movie, hate it and then watch it to the end? Stop it halfway through if it was really bad? We all want to make the right decision, but the worst decision is always not deciding at all and watching previews all night.
Ordering coffee and picking movies are relatively low-stakes choices, but this also holds true with the higher-stakes decisions that life throws our way. You don’t need all of the information, just enough to make a decision and move on. Indecision can be your own prison. As superwoman Anna Wintour says, “Even if I’m completely unsure, I’ll pretend I know exactly what I’m talking about and make a decision.” If the queen of Vogue and the Met Gala can fake it till she makes it with decision-making, then, sister, you can too.
So, after you’ve paused and processed, it’s time to decide how you are going to pounce. To do this, you need to know three things: What exactly you are deciding? What are your options? What do you want the ultimate outcome to be? Then write down the pros and cons of each option. Do you feel like you took a long enough pause? If so, now it’s time to pounce.
When I look back at my own experiences, they’re full of moments that I’m not particularly proud of. Have I failed to pause in the past? For sure. Have I pounced too recklessly? Absolutely. I am queen of the knee-jerk reaction. Saying whatever comes to mind works fine with people who already know and love my quirky self, but it’s gotten me into trouble with work folks, and it’s something I’ve really had to work on.
Now I remind myself to pause before I make a decision. If I had known then what I know now, the outcome would likely have been different. But I also try and remember that because I do indeed know more now, I should have better outcomes from now on. When faced with a decision that is weighing on you, give it the weight it deserves with a pro/con list. This gives you the most accurate picture of what your decision should be.
A version of this article was originally published on Entrepreneur.