I’m fairly confident all of you have had this experience…
You have a big decision to make: Should I leave this guy, take this new job, start my business, move to NYC, etc. So you ask everyone you know for their advice. You know you can’t possibly think through all the possible outcomes on your own, so it’s helpful to combine brainpower with your sister, friends, mom, coworkers, therapist, and dog walker. And you get LOTS opinions back (because, let’s be honest, most people aren’t shy about sharing their views). Everyone seems to have a really good rationale behind their advice, too. Except there’s one glaring problem — your mom’s advice clashes with your best friend’s, who’s views are totally different from your officemate at work, who has tons of reasons why your sister’s opinion is flat-out wrong.
So you started out with one big question, and now you have 12 different, compelling answers … and still no idea what YOU actually want. Your search for a solution just exploded into an even more confusing mess than before. Plus, the more opinions you hear, the more you second-guess your own intuition or gut feeling.
Welcome to The Land of Analysis Paralysis.
Having ALL the information seems like a much smarter approach than making a decision based on limited information. But the truth is, when you have a ton of input flowing in (especially differing opinions), you often end up making a less authentic decision because your inner compass gets thrown out of whack.
So what’s the solution?
I’m not advising you to become a hermit and stop sharing your life with friends and family. But I am suggesting that you become hyper-aware of how often you’re asking for advice, and from whom. When people give you advice, no matter how loving intention is, they’re really only telling you what they would do in your situation. Their response may or may not line up with your values and priorities, and it likely won’t be 100% authentic for you.
So when you have a big decision to make, consider limiting your advice-seeking to one or two trusted people who know you well. Or better yet, discuss it with a coach or other third-party professional who can bring you a completely unbiased view and help you get clarity about what YOU want (not what your Mom or best friend wants for you). And make sure to give yourself plenty of alone time before making a big decision so you can get clear on what your intuition is telling you.
For those of you who realize that you’re asking for others’ input on a weekly (or even daily) basis, I have a bold challenge for you.
Try spending one entire week making ALL your decisions completely solo. This includes seemingly innocuous decisions like where to eat lunch or how to respond to that text from the cute guy in your office. For one full week, you may not ask for anyone’s advice, and all your decisions must come from you and you alone.
So what do you say? Will you accept my challenge? I’d love to hear how it goes! Let me know in the comments below, or email me directly at [email protected].
Kristen Walker is the co-founder of Clarity on Fire, a coaching company for women in their 20s and 30s who want clarity about the type of job and relationship they want and how to get it. Want to try a free coaching session? Contact us.