I hate to shop, so the advent of on-line shopping has been a blessing for me. Since I do a lot of on-line purchasing, I also do a fair bit of returning. I’m usually pretty good about packaging up the stuff I don’t want and sending it back the next day, or maybe the day after that. However, there was one package that sat around for almost two weeks. I couldn’t get myself to do it!
Usually the visual cue of the box near my desk is enough to remind me to take care of it, as I hate the clutter. After 10 days of walking past this box, I added it to my to-do list, in the hope that the desire to check off everything on my list would induce me to get it done.
I finally did it today, and I realize why I was dragging my heels on it. It wasn’t just a question of sealing the package and putting on the return label. It required a decision, and a complicated one at that.
I often quote my wise colleague Barbara Hemphill, who said “Clutter is postponed decisions.” When I forced myself to make this decision today, I realized that leaving this decision dangling had been causing me stress. If I had made the decision the day I opened the package, my life would have been simpler.
Decision-making can be hard. However, it’s important for us to remind ourselves that the consequences of most decisions are pretty trivial. The stress we feel when trying to make the decision can be greater than the inconvenience of making the wrong decision.
When you find yourself stuck on making a decision, ask yourself what the worst possible outcome would be, and whether that outcome would really make a difference in your life. If not, then just pick one of the options and move on. I know that sounds easy to say, but start noticing how often you postpone making decisions. Practice being more decisive on the small decisions. When you’ve exercised your decision-making muscle enough, the larger decisions will get easier.