Here’s a story from No More Dreaded Mondays:
You may know the medieval logic dilemma of the donkey that is placed equidistant from two piles of food of
equal size and quality—a perfectly symmetrical situation. If the behavior of the donkey were completely rational, it would have no reason to prefer one pile to the other; therefore, it could not decide which pile to eat first. So it would remain in its original position and starve to death. This dilemma is called “Buridan’s ass.”
I find many people immobilized by the challenge of choosing—even if both choices are attractive. Two great schools, two great jobs, two great business ideas. In my graduate psychology brainstorming groups, we would create what-if scenarios. What if the donkey, aware that he is starving, flips a coin to make a choice? which pile of food is heads and which is tails? Ah yes, another decision.
If you are looking at two opportunities, how do you ultimately make the decision? If you are considering moving to Denver or Miami, how do you make that call? If you have been accepted by Harvard and the Peace Corps, which will help you choose?
The trick is there aren’t two choices here, there are three: If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. It’s just as obvious a choice as either of the new options. So you may as well make it interesting by changing the scenery.
Remember this sequence for making a choice: (1) Clearly state the issue. (2) Get the advice and opinions of others. (3) List your options. (4) Choose the best option. (5) Act. And I recommend no more than two weeks for this process – no matter how big the decision.
Don’t be a donkey; you just might starve as a result of your indecision. And indecision in one area will cripple your effectiveness in all other areas.
Have you ever gotten stuck trying to make a decision?