The urge to be a perfectionist means we don’t take action.
Agility requires taking actions, seeing how they play out, and then iterating on your results.
What stops you from being successful?
More than doing the wrong thing, it’s not doing anything at all.
Inaction for most people is the greatest enemy. It strangles brilliant ideas in the crib. It creates a roadblock where there really is none. Or it anticipates problems so far down the road that they are impossible to prevent, but generate anxiety for you anyway.
Inaction is caused by a few factors, including the fear of failure, the fear of ridicule, and plain old rigidity.
But the single biggest cause of inaction? Analysis paralysis.
What Car Buying Can Teach Us About Decision-Making
Analysis paralysis is a well documented phenomenon in psychology.
Here’s how it works:
As human beings, we are pretty good at deciding between a few choices, like say three different car models. We compare and contrast looks, fuel efficiency, and safety and make a decision. It’s not too likely we’ll get it wrong, so we are probably going to be happy with our choice.
But say those three different car models are suddenly twenty-five.
Now there are twenty-four ways to be wrong and still only one way to be right. Now we tend to procrastinate. We put off making a decision until we have to or someone makes it for us.
This is the essence of analysis paralysis.
Too many choices lead paradoxically to not making any choice at all.
We are more likely to walk away and take no action at all instead of just picking a damn car and risk being wrong.
Pretty foolish, huh?
Now just imagine if the stakes were higher: choosing which college to attend, what neighborhood to live in, which profession to enter.
The only way to overcome analysis paralysis is to act.
Stop trying to get everything perfect. Life is a series of course corrections. You are allowed to explore an option, backtrack, and completely change directions. No one’s keeping score. It is your life to lead after all.
Developing your action bias means choosing to take one action instead of constantly hesitating or endlessly weighing options.
Taking action can be scary. That’s why most people don’t do it.
Once you begin to see that most mistakes are hardly fatal and easily fixable, you will begin to develop an action bias. Agility requires taking actions, seeing how they play out, and then iterating on your results.
The next time your friends are dilly-dallying about which restaurant to go to or which movie to watch, just make the choice for them. Take action. Be decisive.
After all, if you’re not willing to stick your neck out for something that trivial, how do you expect to succeed in life?
Image by Eneas.