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How to Take Action When you’re Stuck in Indecision

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How many times have you been working on a project or an important goal and then, all of a sudden everything comes to a screeching halt because you get hung up on something unexpected?

It’s crazy, isn’t it? One minute everything is progressing nicely, the next minute you are totally stuck. You want to move forward, but here you are at this critical crossroad. And even though you never saw it coming, now you find yourself in  a situation where need to stop, reevaluate, and figure out what to do next.

No problem, right?

You feel confident in your own resourcefulness, and the fact that you can handle this little hiccup and get right back to making progress. So, you refocus, look at all your options, and get ready to wrap it up and move on.

But the more you think about it, the more you realize that things are a bit more complicated than you originally thought. In fact, what seemed simple and straightforward at first has now left you scratching your head and wondering what happened.

The crippling power of indecision

We all get stuck from time to time when life throws us an unexpected curve. It happens in life and business. It also happens in relationships. When we get backed into a corner and the pressure is on to make a choice, if we don’t feel like we have enough information, it’s natural to put on the brakes.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to go from gathering information so you can make a wise choice, to being completely stuck in indecision? Why do you think that happens?

Too many choices and too much information

If you only have one or two choices, it’s not usually that difficult to decide on one or the other. But what happens if you have ten or more possible choices and each one requires careful scrutiny before you can understand the differences?

All of a sudden the simple act of making a decision turns into a monumental task. Not only that, but now you are completely sidetracked from your original purpose and all your effort is being channeled into something completely unexpected.

What can you do to get past this sticking point?

Helping people get unstuck is what I do. In fact, my coaching practice is focused primarily on this one challenge. Granted, there are all sorts of reasons for getting stuck and we certainly can’t discuss them all. But there are certain things that many of them have in common along with some universal guidelines that can be used for getting past almost any sticking point. And that is exactly what we are going to look at next.

The goal is to pinpoint what we need to do to move from being stuck in indecision, back to taking action and making progress. This is important because the longer we are stuck, the greater the chance that we will end up abandoning our original project or goal. Why? Because indecision is the graveyard of good intentions.

5 Strategies for getting unstuck

1. Get a fresh perspective. When we first analyze an unexpected challenge, it can seem much more daunting than it needs to be. The best way to shrink it down to size is to get a fresh perspective. There are two ways to accomplish this. The first is to step back and look at the big picture. Now, see this sticking point in relation to everything else and from this new perspective reevaluate just how big or small it really is. You can also determine how much priority focus it deserves, and what your timeframe is for making a final decision.

The other way to get a fresh perspective is to have someone with experience evaluate the situation from a third party perspective. This is valuable not only because they have experience, but also because they can be completely objective since they are not emotionally involved.

2. Get some expert advice. Educating ourselves so we can make an informed decision is always a good idea. But sometimes the learning curve is too big in proportion to its importance in the overall scheme of things. For example, if you need a legal document created, you wouldn’t go to law school to learn how to do it. You would just hire a lawyer or paralegal to do it for you so you could move on. We can’t be an expert at everything and that’s why we have expert services available. When time is an issue, get some expert help and move on. The time you save will likely be worth more than the cost involved.

3. Be open to alternatives. Maybe there is a simpler or less challenging way to accomplish the same results without all the hassle or expense. The most obvious or publicized solution isn’t always the best. I had this experience lately while looking for a webinar service. I love the idea of holding specialized online training sessions to help my readers and subscribers create positive change in their lives. But most well known webinar services are ridiculously expensive, especially for someone who wants to do free webinars.

With an open mind and a lot of looking I finally discovered the perfect solution. Easy Webinar Plugin is affordable, relatively simple to use, and there is no monthly fee. You can use it to do prerecorded webinars and very soon now, live webinar as well. The creator recognized a need, created a solution, and now I have the perfect solution.

4. Ready, fire, aim. This is the approach I use when I have looked at all the options and still can’t make up my mind. There comes a point where overthinking a decision just becomes a hybrid kind of procrastination. My usual sequence is ready, aim, fire, but sometimes the “aim” part can lapse into overthinking and overanalyzing and nothing gets done. That’s when you have to take control of the process, make a decision, and take action without looking back.

5. Find a way to take action while you decide. Taking action has an amazing way of making everything work out. If no acceptable solutions are available at the moment, take action on some other aspect of your project or goal. While you work at it from a different angle, have confidence that the answer you need will make itself known very soon. Action is the antidote to feeling stuck and there is always some area where you can keep going while things sort themselves out.

What do you do when you get stuck?
Can you relate to the challenge of indecision?
The lines are open!

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7 Comments

  1. Grady July 16, 2012 Reply

    What a great post!

    I find that sometimes when I’m having trouble making a decision, it’s about something that I might need down the road, not so much right now, and it’s just me trying to think of every possibility before I get started. But often, I’m finding that if I just get started, I’ll have a clearer idea of what I really need to do when I get to the point where the actual decision really needs to be made. That’s one reason I like taking action.

    As for seeking expert help, I know a lot of my friends and family have given me grief over finding help on learning how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. But I look at it as using available resources, and, as you put it here, seeking expert help. Even if the help is “free”, sometimes, it can be just what you need to figure out and solve your problem.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • Jonathan July 17, 2012 Reply

      Hi Grady, you make an excellent point about clarity. That is indeed how it works, action brings clarity to the situation and keeps us from getting stuck overthinking every possibility. As for expert help, even something as simple as a product review can sometimes give us the information we were looking for.

  2. Anne July 20, 2012 Reply

    I liked the fact that you said be open to alternatives. So many great opportunities pass us by because they’re not wrapped in the package we expect to see our ‘dream’ in. We have to be open minded to understand that things may turn out exactly as we want, even though they don’t start exactly as we plan.

    It’s better to achieve close to what we want than nothing at all. After all, ‘close’ is near our goal. All it will take is a few more steps and we’re there.

    Great post.

    • Jonathan July 20, 2012 Reply

      Hi Anne, we can always find ways to postpone taking action, but all that does is keep us stuck. Whatever our challenge there is usually a way to overcome it or work around it. Once we get a little momentum going, the important thing is to keep it going. And YES, close is something to celebrate. Thanks for sharing, that’s a great point.

  3. Zoe July 23, 2012 Reply

    This really makes a lot of sense, I myself used to think that I can do all the things, but I’ve learn that no one can do it all. I will share this link to my project manager, I am sure that he will learn a lot from this. Thank you!

  4. lynne May 29, 2014 Reply

    Hi ,a very motivating post. the strategies you gave were all very helpful in moving forward and making progress. I’ll be sharing this article with my colleagues. Thanks.

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