Here I am again.
I reached a Y junction. I must choose between two options.
I go over the numbers once more. The first list shows the monthly expenses for keeping my house: utilities, HOA fee, real estate tax, homeowners insurance, and yard maintenance. The second list lines up projected rental income and expenses such as an agent fee and taxes. I look at each number for the hundredth time and try to make sense of the data.
I can’t focus. I can’t think. I can’t decide.
I’m stuck with a property I left in Florida. It’s a lovely home in a good neighborhood. It’s where I grew my family for six years. I love that house. But I now live in Texas and can’t use it anymore.
What should I do? Rent it until the right time to sell or put it on the market now?
Each option has pros and cons. Hope and fear fill my heart. Different voices cross my mind.
I should let go of this house. But if it doesn’t sell? Rental income will help me. But the house will get more wear and tear.
The numbers are clear and sharp, but my thoughts and feelings are not. They weigh down on me.
I’m confused. I’m overwhelmed. I can’t make a decision.
Decision paralysis Welcome to the world of decision paralysis. It’s the place of being paralyzed among different possibilities. That’s where we feel trapped, stuck, and helpless.
Decision-making becomes a struggle when fear of an unpredictable future hijacks the mind. Worrying about choosing the wrong option clouds our judgment and immobilizes us. We are left standing at the Y while life is passing us by. We get so caught up in constantly rising thoughts we lose the ability to listen to our inner wisdom. We become blind to opportunities and closed to new openings.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Here are the steps we can take to snap out of the paralysis, move forward with a decision, and smile at life.
Both options are good Instead of pondering which option is better, see both as equally good.
Options A and B are both beneficial and will yield different results. Whatever consequence either option brings will serve us well in the long run.
Life is a journey where we can enjoy a variety of views along the way. Different options create different sceneries. Option A may take us to the destination on a highway, while option B may let us stroll a field before reaching the same place: We could meet interesting people or see lovely flowers on our way. Who knows how that extra experience will enrich our lives? When I became a widow, I had to take a part-time job to supplement my income. Hours of googling and job interviews left me with two potential job positions: after-school teaching artist and bookstore clerk. After agonizing over the choices, I decided to try the former. I thought I could use my artistic creativity and experience of homeschooling my son. I tell you — it was a disaster!
Trying to get attention from a dozen wild kids wore me out, and I dreaded returning to work. But I discovered something I would not know without trying the job: my strong need to serve adults using my creativity and life experience.
I quit my job in a week with shattered self-confidence, but the whole event was a blessing in disguise. I got a new job that satisfied my creativity and did not involve interaction with children! I did very well with the part-time job and was promoted to a full-time position next year.
My failed part-time job made me realize my strength, weakness, and needs. It helped me secure a job that saved me from financial worries.
Trust your intuition According to Taoism (ancient Chinese philosophy), we are blessed with three minds: the upper mind (brain), the middle mind (heart), and the lower mind (lower abdomen). Many of us rely on our upper minds to do all the work of choosing the right option: observation, data collection, analysis, and decision-making. It’s so much work for our poor brains — no wonder they get stressed out!
You can expedite your decision-making process by following the Taoist way. Use your mind to observe without judgment what is happening and let your inner wisdom (gut feeling) decide which option to take.
Choose and commit Sometimes our options are more than a couple. The mind wanders off in many different directions. It’s exhausting.
Marissa Mayer, the former CEO of Yahoo, learned the following lesson.
"…Misperceiving that there is one correct choice is a common mistake…there are usually a few good choices — and then there’s the one you pick, commit to, and make great — is the best way to make flexible, optimal, good decisions in life."
She is right. There are usually a few good choices. But choosing one and committing to it is scary.
What would happen if I commit myself to this option, but if it turns out to be a bad choice? Will I be wasting my time and effort?
This thought puts us right back into paralysis mode.
Live in the moment, not the future When we are busy chasing thoughts (it doesn’t matter if they are positive or negative), we are living for the future, not in the present moment. We don’t notice a wildflower blooming or a bird flying by. Our friend’s warm smile doesn’t touch us, and we are blind to our neighbor’s suffering. We are cooped up in the capsule of hope, fear, expectations, and worries. They all belong to the possible future, which is a mere fantasy. The only reality is the present moment.
When we make a choice between options, we also choose to live in the moment, not in fantasy.
We say, “That’s enough!” to the confused, wandering, and exhausted mind and step into reality with courage, trust, and determination. We are now committed not only to the choice we have made but also to moving forward wherever life takes us. We are flowing with life and fully participating in it instead of being a bystander or escaping into the imaginary world.
This process is empowering. You will feel it in your gut. You will immediately know you are a different person. You are bigger and stronger. You now live life on your own terms.
That’s what is waiting for you beyond the fog of indecision. Getting caught in the confusing and fearful place is now an opportunity for growth and empowerment.
Are you ready to receive the blessings of decision paralysis?
So, can you guess which option I chose for my Florida home: renting or selling it?
I followed my gut feeling and put the property on the market. It sold in four months for a price lower than what I expected.
I felt GREAT nonetheless.
I got unstuck and free. I moved forward on my path. That is the only thing that truly mattered to me.
You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward. —Amelia Earhart