Monday, March 19, 2018

How To Overcome Decision Paralysis

I like having options, but too many cause sensory overload. As a writer, I'm bombarded with social media, blogs, and emails offering ways to improve my writing.

At one point in my life, a close friend and I decided to start a craft business. We would make and sell Christian Christmas ornaments. It sounded like a plan, but then other items were added to an ever-growing list. Why not make wreaths? And centerpieces? And gift items? The list of supplies grew, and we hit the craft stores.

"Oh, look, at these cute cutouts. We could paint them and add them to the ornaments." The selection, bargains, and ideas were dizzying. We bought so much stuff that deciding what to use for a simple ornament became a challenge.

Finally, we called a halt to the buying spree. "Let's use what we have and get the finished products sold."

We learned:

1.  To enjoy looking without making a buying decision.
2.  To observe what colors/items we truly liked.
3.  To have a specific project in mind before making a purchase.

Applying these lessons to writing educational opportunities wasn't so easy. The Internet and hundreds of books, online courses, writers conferences, etc. provide more resources than I could use in a lifetime. It's enough to bring on a bad case of decision paralysis. Here's my process:

1.  Slow down and take a deep breath.
2.  Pray and ask God to direct you. 
3.  I narrow down the choices to several reliable sources, look over the materials, and see if anything jumps out at me. This can be either positive or negative.

Example 1:  I went on a free webinar which gave some good information. Of course, they were selling an expensive course. I asked myself: If you do this, can you commit the time and energy it requires to succeed? This is usually my primary concern with any resource. My second question concerns the actual value of the course and whether or not I could afford it. I've begun avoiding these so-called free webinars because of the high pressure (offer good today only) and the expense (only $1,000 even though it's worth $3,000).

Example 2:  I heard about a book on deep point of view. (For the non-writers, this relates to which character's thoughts you get to see and their perspective on a situation.) The resource was reasonably priced, covered a single topic, and didn't require the next two years of my life. I learned a lot from that small volume. I also discovered that I'm a nugget learner. A focused exploration of a single topic helped me remember the lessons learned.

Writers and Readers:  Please share your experience with too many choices and how you narrowed them down.

Photo Credit:  Jean Scheljen

7 comments:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan - I try and do only what I can commit to ... and I haven't always been successful - which means I still need to do those things. I hope to achieve more while I'm here ... we'll see - cheers Hilary

quietspirit said...

Susan: I have to weigh the monetary cost (How much money will I have to part with) and the time cost,(How much time will I have to spend on this?) I have learned NOT to try to read and listen to all that is out there. I have to choose how I spend my time and my money.

Karen Lange said...

Excellent advice, Susan! Appreciate your insight and tips. Have a good weekend! :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Hilary - I've learned the hard way not to take on more than I can handle. It's too stressful.

Hi Quiet Spirit - Yes, cost is a big factor for most people, as well as time. I'm interested in so many things that it's difficult to whittle it down to a few.

Hi Karen - Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope you have a good weekend as well.

Karen Lange said...

Hi again Susan! :) Didn't want to forget to tell you, I'm sharing this link on my Miscellaneous Monday on 3/26. Good post!

Lynn J Simpson, PLC said...

A nugget learner. I like that term! I know I can get overwhelmed with all the information out there. And having a curious mind can get me going down a lot of rabbit trails! Prayer first and breathing before leaping is very sound and wise advise.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Lynn - I guess they don't call it, "the information age," for nothing. I've learned to guard my time, my heart, and my mind.