Procrastination

Advanced Techniques to End Decision-Making Procrastination

Remedies for indecisiveness

Posted Apr 02, 2010

Practically everything that you do involves decisions, and some come automatically. For example, you normally don't consciously decide what shoe to put on first. You use cream and sugar in your coffee. You just do what you've done before.  

Some decisions are about critical life goals. You deliberate about chosing person A or B for a life mate. You chose a career direction that you believe best fits your talents and interests. By thinking things through, and acting on your best--not perfect--option, you've expressed an interest in taking charge of your life. If you equivocate, and keep equivocating, on life decisions, then your indecisiveness is the problem. What's going on?

Some decisions are automatic, recurring, and self-defeating. One such decision is the procrastination decision. If you fall into this trap too often, can you break the cycle and act more decisively?

Procrastination Decisions

Decision-making procrastination is needlessly postponing priority decisions until another day or time. You have a choice of exclusively dating X or Y. Both have some different advantages and disadvantages. If you put off the decision until you come up with the perfect decision, you've entered a decision-making procrastination trap. You are likely to lose both.

Some decision situations trigger simple, default procrastination. Your automatic procrastination decision (APD) may start with a whisper of emotion and an urge to diverge.

APDs may come from subconscious causes, such as seeing something in the situation as complex or unsettling. The brain can respond to a new situation with a "later factor." This occurs when you experience a conflict between your mammalian brain and higher-order cognitive functions. Your lower brain wants to go one way, but you know it is wise to plod through difficulties to get to a bigger reward. Accept a later factor conflict as something a repetilian ancestor might do, but not you, and you can quickly rebound from an initial hesitation.

You have a sensitivity to and aversion for discomfort. Uncertainty evokes discomfort. You interpret feeling uncomfortable as a signal for retreat. To quell these feelings, you promise yourself that you'll deal with the situation later. These procrastination decisions lead to a relief that speciously rewards your decision to delay. This reward for delay strengthens your procrastination habit.

Decision-Making Breakdowns and Remedies

When procrastination interferes with you achieving your  meaningful and timely goals, this is a time to assess both the situation and yourself. Do you doubt yourself and avoid making a decision unless you have a guarantee that what you do will turn out well? Do you see yourself as ineffective when you face uncertainties? If you believe that you can learn as you go, then uncertainty is something to resolve and not avoid.

Your definition of a situation can change with new information or a different perspective. Sometimes stepping out of your own shoes can bring about a changed outlook. Imagine yourself in a different role. Envision yourself as the ancient Macedonian general Alexander the Great.  Would he have wrung his hands in despair and acted with indecision when a battle was pending? Would he have proceeded with a general plan, observed what was happening, sized up the situation, and tactically acted?

To act decisive in situations where there are uncertainties, you may have to engage the process to get a good picture of what is happening, and to help yourself shape the outcome. 

Here is a quick tip. Make a decision based on two or three of the most important factors in a situation. When you single out one factor  from among others, you've made it the most important. Deciding can be as direct as that.

Here is another quick tip. Act when you are 51% sure. You can normally change direction based on what you learn.

Use DECIDE as an action guide:

Decisions are inescapable. You might as well decide to decide.

Enter areas of uncertainty to gain clarity and direction.

Consider alternatives and consequences, including the consequences of inaction.

Implement problem-solving actions.

Determine what works, what doesn't, and what can be accomplished if you made modifications.

Engage the next challenge in order to stretch your abilities to actualize your positive attributes.

Decision making procrastination is a complex process. If you want to know more, see Knaus  End Procrastination Now . You'll learn about techniques you can use to act decisively.  

(C) Dr. Bill Knaus

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