Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Paralyzed by Indecision

The other day, I was in desperate need of a second coffee.  I was doing the grocery shopping at the time, and decided to grab a quick one to sip while I shopped.  I ordered and fetched my medium iced coffee, and took it over to the fixin' bar.  Here's what I encountered: soy milk, whole milk, skim milk, cream and light cream in chilled carafes, as well as simple syrup, agave nectar, maple syrup, raw sugar and good old white sugar, all for the taking.  Immediately, I had two thoughts:
1) I love Whole Foods and their pimped out coffee experience.
2) If someone somehow time-traveled here from the sixties, they'd have but one thought: WTF?

Not so long ago, if someone wanted a cup of coffee, they scooped it from a can they had mindlessly bought from the store, flipped a switch, and brewed it.  They probably added non-dairy creamer or a bit of milk, maybe a spoonful of sugar or a Sweet n' Low, and that was that.  They caffeinated and went on with their day.  Nowadays, it is stunning how many decisions we're confronted with in a simple effort to even so much as catch a morning java buzz.  Iced or hot, mocha or caramel, cold-brewed, drip-brewed, French pressed, fair-trade, shade-grown, organic, espresso, dark roast, light roast... and did you want some oatmeal with that?  Well, do you want Irish, Scottish, instant, old-fashioned, quick or steel-cut, made with soy, almond, rice or cow's milk, or maybe just some water (filtered or unfiltered?)? The world we live in today is both amazingly colorful and plentiful, and also a total Libran hell.  I sometimes find myself getting so caught up in the minutiae of these day-to-day details that it totally colors my ability to focus on the bigger picture of both the day at hand and my life in general.  Do you ever experience this?

I think this all hit me this week because within my little family we're still trying to answer a lot of our big life questions about where and how we want to live, exactly what we want this family to look like and what professional paths we're trying follow.  Trying to whittle these Big Things down into manageable action items can be so daunting that it is sometimes easier to seek comfort in the routine of the everyday and focus on the questions that are easier to answer (white or wheat?  scrambled or poached? decaf or regular?).  Knowing that this is a tendency, I think there is some sort of divine procrastination to be found in agonizing over these smaller decisions in life, as they provide a welcome distraction from the bigger issues at hand.
Are you still with me?  I am admittedly suffering from some sleep deprivation-induced delirium today and perhaps should keep these ramblings to myself, but I really don't think I'm alone in this experience.  So, here is my challenge to myself and to anyone else (Libra or otherwise) who wants to get on a path to more clear, less fraught decision making: let us work towards tackling life's small decisions quickly, incisively and without agita.  There's always going to be another morning to choose another coffee.  Let's free up the mental space to make the bigger decisions in life and keep moving forward.  Coffee in hand, I believe we'll be unstoppable.

In a world with sooooo many choices, how do you keep from becoming paralyzed by indecision?


  1. I think the key to overcoming indecision is to overcome one's fear of making a "wrong" decision. Or rather, the fear that one of the decisions is actually "wrong". I am not trying to say that all decisions can be made quickly and without much thought, there are many decisions in our daily lives that we can make quickly and move on from. To borrow your example of coffee - adding milk, soy milk, cream, sugar, syrup, or artificial stuff is not a big decision that needs alot of time to think (my personal choice is to think back to when I was 7 year old and mixed all the different fountain drinks into one cup).

    Other decisions, need only a short amount of time to ponder, research, seek advice and perhaps even consult with one's significant other before making the choice. What we must all strive to do better is to learn to live with those decisions and if necessary have the tools to make slight changes to them if they need to be 'better' (not because they were wrong, but only because they can now be improved upon).

    So if everyone could borrow something from their neighboring Taurus' (zodiac code for practical) and make the decisions as best they can at that time then all will be okay.

  2. when it's time for coffee, i know what i want- no sweetner and just a tad of half n' half please. but when it comes to greater life questions it seems i am growing more indecisive and insecure about decisions made with time. doesn't that seem wrong? shouldn't i be growing more self-assured with each passing year? in theory...

    pro and con lists are a worthless in my opinion, so if it's a toughy i will flip a coin. call it, flip it, and sit with it. then, if the decision doesn't feel right, change your mind.

    and lastly, advice from my dearest friend, "own it". a decision is made with the best information you have at the time- it is what it is, so own it.

  3. If you don't know where you're going...any path will take you there.

    Just keep on walkin' down the path. it doesn't matter which one. They are all lovely and horrible and magical and tragic and sweet. So walk. Run. Skip. Giggle. Take lots of breaks. And walk some more.

  4. I read a great book called Paradox of Choice--check it out!. Oh, and I will take my coffee with cream, please :)

  5. I loved this blog - once again, SO right on. I get locked in indecision on a damn near daily basis. I totally agree with the above poster (and fellow Taurus, it would seem - go figure!) who stated that indecision can be fueled by fear of making the "wrong" choice. Yup.

    When I get paralyzed by indecision, I try to snap myself out of it and chide myself for being foolish: "just make a damn decision!" I'll listen to my gut. When I'm too locked up, though, I depend on others, namely my partner, to make the call. We are indeed a partnership, and I feel like I can count on him to pick a decision when my brain simply lacks the power or will to make one more single choice.

    Plus, I don't think he agonizes over the decision like I do. LOL