Second-Guessing Myself (and Sometimes Third-Guessing)

I love second-guessing myself, in the worst way. I get close to making a decision, and then the tumor of doubt grows and takes over my motor skills until I shrink into a puddle of noncommittal ooze. Pretty amazing, huh?

Wait — I meant awful. It’s annoying and debilitating, and I’d like to make more progress kicking this habit to the curb. Enough “second-stressing” myself!

Though I hate second-guessing myself, I’m getting better all the time. Allow me to share some of what helps and what makes everything worse.

1. Paralysis by Analysis: BAD

There are two root causes of indecision. To battle indecision, you must A) realize the options on the table, and B) understand enough information about each decision.

My problem is hardly ever too little information; instead, it is WAY TOO MUCH information, usually about a poor decision. I zoom in on details instead of zooming out to see what else is available. To break this, I have to consider other alternatives with the vanishing options test: I imagine my current options are suddenly gone and I must find new and different options.

If you have strategies to share, please leave them in the comments — I could use the help!

2. Parkinson’s Law: GOOD

While reading The 4-Hour Workweek, I was reminded that “a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion.” My take on it: Give yourself shorter deadlines so you won’t work as long and hard to achieve the same result!

This helps me quite a bit. If I have tons of time to make a decision, I will stall indefinitely so I can learn more. But if I only have a day to decide on a big decision before I lose the chance, I can do it without breaking a sweat.

3. Prioritize Money: BAD

Bad? Huh?! YES. Often, the worst decision I can make is the cheapest one! Making the cheap, money-centered decision has bitten me so often. “Buy nice or buy twice” litters my experience, and I should have just picked the more expensive, better option by default. Instead of money, prioritize your time and energy — what I like to call “The Hassle Factor.”

You can always make more money — but you can never make more time! Make the best decision you can, aside from price, and move on.

4. Decide Now, Fix Later: GOOD

Stalling on a decision is usually much worse than making the wrong decision. A bad decision can be corrected, whereas action not taken is often irreversible. I regret the things I never did much more than the things I have done poorly. Be courageous and stick your neck out more, Andrew!

5. Second-Guess Yourself: BAD

Sometimes I have to draw a line in the sand and cross it, symbolizing I am DONE thinking about a decision. I have made the best decision possible. No looking back. If I absolutely have to fix it, I can!

That felt good to write. Thank you for the therapy.

What strategies do you use to avoid second-guessing yourself?