Decide Already

  • November 11, 2011 by Corbett Barr
  • 26 Comments

Being “on the fence” is one of the worst places you can be.

Being undecided means you’re uncommitted. It means you’re not sure if the thing you’re considering is worth it. Instead of moving ahead, you stay in one place, weighing your options.

When you’re undecided, every move you make lacks the full force you’re capable of. You can get away with half-assing things because your ego is protected. You haven’t decided, therefore you can’t be held accountable.

When you’re undecided, you dabble, trying to “decide” whether it’s worth it. What you’re really doing is hoping for new evidence or a push in one direction or another. Most times that new evidence doesn’t show up, and that push never comes. So you’re stuck on the fence, waiting for the balls to make your decision.

For anything worth pursuing long-term, there are rarely big events early on that tell you you’re on the right path. Only after months and months or years and years can you look back and see the progress and the signs that were there. In the moment, it just looks like hard work and uncertainty.

So deciding is one of life’s great challenges.

Deciding is critical because without a firm commitment, you can’t make long-term significant progress. If you don’t decide, you’ll likely bounce from one idea to the next, weighing options, trying to know which decisions to make.

There are no perfect decisions. Every time you choose something, by default you rule something else out. That’s something you have to get comfortable with in order to make progress.

For people who decide and do, life is long and full of accomplishments. For people who sit on the fence for year after year, life is short and full of regret. Most people put off decisions because of uncertainty and what they might miss out on otherwise.

Here’s the crazy thing about decisions: when you decide, you miss out on one set of possibilities but gain another. When you don’t decide, you miss out on both sets of possibilities.

So decide already. You can always change your mind later.

Then commit to giving yourself long enough to actually see progress from your decision (and be honest about how long it should take, don’t give up early).

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


Think Traffic is now The Sparkline. Click here to check it out.

Or View The Archives

David Corbet November 11, 2011 at 10:42 am

Such a simple post, but my favourite yet.

In fact Corbett, you just made me apply for acting school.

Corbett November 11, 2011 at 11:14 am

Hey David, congrats on the decision. I’ve taken some acting classes and they were very transformative, even for someone not pursuing acting as a profession. I hope you love it.

Neil November 11, 2011 at 10:48 am

This really spoke to me. “When you don’t decide, you miss out on both sets of possibilities.” Wow. I have never thought about it this way, but it’s true. I always have so many ideas and some only get done half-ass because I’m weighing my options and trying to go with what has the “lowest hanging fruit.” Thanks for putting this in a clear way.

Corbett November 11, 2011 at 11:14 am

Happy to help Neil. Let me know how the new decisions go for you.

Tiffany November 11, 2011 at 10:48 am

Funny that this popped into my inbox EXACTLY as I was over-analyzing what should be a no-brainer decision for me. Very wise words Corbett! Thanks for the shove.

Andre November 11, 2011 at 11:14 am

Awesome post. It may just help me get off my current fence of indecision :D

Jacob Cassidy November 11, 2011 at 11:33 am

I feel like you’re speaking directly to me, Corbett. I wrote yesterday in my personal blog about feeling lost because there are so many different paths we can take and narrowing it down to just one and saying no to all the others feels like losing them all. But in reality, it’s about winning one and letting the rest go, in oppose to sitting on the fence and losing them all.

One thing Steve Jobs said was the key to his success was the ability to say NO a thousand times, and focus all his energy on those key few YESes.

iraitalia November 11, 2011 at 11:54 am

Love this post! It is so timely.

Sergio Felix November 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Hey Corbett,

Completely agree with Neil, in fact I was going to say that! LOL

There are a few phrases in Internet Marketing that I have just started to HATE.

“It’s a no brainer” is one of them, I just can’t stand it.

And “being on the fence” is one that I hear a lot but I actually LIKE it!!

I am very analytical and whenever I have to make a choice I check out my possibilities and the consequence of my choices (I do it fast too) but I don’t like it when other people do it.

Why? Because I am being analytical and I MAKE a choice, most people are just deciding whether to do it or not while not analyzing anything.

They are just being lemmings.

And that’s what I don’t like.

I think I actually said something like this once in a review I wrote: “If you’re on the fence about this, buy it and if you don’t absolutely LOVE it, I’ll refund the money MYSELF”.

It was an affiliate offer by the way which made me a few sales and not a single refund.

Definitely an article I LOVED man, have a great weekend!

Sergio

Niv November 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm

A few people now have said that this post is timely and I think that is because it is about something ‘time-less’.

Like others I ‘feel’ what you are saying, and I guess you are speaking from experience when you say it.

I was just discussing this topic with my wife and wondering where the past few years went. You are right. My ego was protected because it did not commit to something. And that was because of fear and uncertainty. And pressure from the status quo.

Unfortunately, I still have that fear and uncertainty after reading your latest post, and probably will do when I wake tomorrow.

But once again, you have made me think.

And you have another piece of evergreen content.

All philosophy is timeless, after all.

Kyle November 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm

I’ve been trying to do this a lot more lately. We spend so much energy trying to decide on trivial things by going back and forth and back and forth.
Simply making a decision releaves so much stress an anxiety and on top of that it gives some much needed feedback to help make decisions in the future.

Eugene N November 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Hey Corbett,

Just want to say that these recent posts of your were a great idea. I’m getting a lot of out them, including this one.

Deciding on things has always been a problem for me. But things like this do give me an extra push.

Thanks.

Monica Ray November 12, 2011 at 5:02 am

Great post and perfect timing, I’m being really indecisive at the moment. Sometimes we’re indecisive because we think we “should” do something even though we don’t want to do it.

Anu December 9, 2011 at 2:07 am

I couldn’t agree more with you Monica.. We are caught in social expectations and things that “should be done” as defined by others or taught to us during our upbringing. We often do not find the courage to do what we want to do because we are too busy doing the things we feel have to do.

Drew Meyers November 14, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Thank you, i needed this — I’m in the “deciding” rut right now and I need to get out of it ASAP..

Jacqueline December 4, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Corbett,

Your post brings new insight into the idea of opportunity cost – I often rationalize decisions based on what I will be giving up, not on what I am gaining, giving myself enough wiggle room to change my mind in the future if possible.

I like how you characterize decision making as a challenge instead of a luxury; it makes the accomplishments that much sweeter in the end, and it proves more costly in the present :-)

Joe P December 6, 2011 at 8:04 pm

I am trying to decide if I like this post or not. -wink-

Anu December 9, 2011 at 2:08 am

Making a decision is fine but how do you find the motivation to stick to it? I over analyze my decisions even after I have taken them.

Anu December 9, 2011 at 2:10 am

Brilliant post nonetheless. Stumbled upon your blog at work when there wasn’t much workload and I was browsing through random blogs.

Dale December 11, 2011 at 11:09 am

A filmmaker friend of mine, when asked about how a project goes from the world of the imagination to an actual production, said “pick a date.” Once you have a date, you can work out all the other details around it. Picking that date is the point where you decide to actually do this thing.

Corbett December 11, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Great point Dale, I’ve used that technique myself a bunch of times. It definitely can work, as long as you stick to the date (and reduce scope if necessary).

Jeff Goins January 17, 2012 at 10:28 am

Excellent. I am writing a book on this subject. So well said, Corbett. Spoken like a true decider. :)

Frank Martin | Modern Monkey Mind March 23, 2012 at 7:51 am

The past few days have been one big decision for me. Finally decided to make things official and posted to my blog this morning letting whoever is already reading it know that I was going to be pulling a major reboot in the coming weeks. Nothing better to get you off your ass than making a decision public.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Sites That Link to This Post