I used to be a total boss at decision making. Time to take a new job/project? Need to choose some wallpaper? Keep/chuck the man? Medium or hot piri piri sauce? Boom. Easy. I could nail that interview, storm into B & Q and own my interior design intuition, know my heart or stare down a Nando’s menu at the drop of a hat. I’m impulsive and reliant on my gut – and while perhaps not an exact science in decision making, it’s never failed me. Until now.
Back in the day even really big decisions would only require some brief rumination and mulling, or perhaps a purposeful walk in the rain with pensive face – at the most I’d take a couple of nights to sleep on a problem. But a few weeks ago I met my Big Life Decisions maker. Forget being at a crossroads, I was staring down spaghetti junction with potential for seismic changes looming across all aspects of life – work, home and romance. I found myself trying to solve the impossible riddle that is the modern day phenomenon of the First World Problem. That of trying to attack far too many options with the attention span of a gnat and an overriding sense of panic at the prospect of making a bad choice.
The possibilities were endless, and completely flooring me. I was paralysed by indecision at every turn. My stress levels soared and the longer I wrestled with each choice, the higher my adrenaline output climbed.
We live in an era of limitless options yet making decisions is one of the most taxing things you can do. Even ruler of the free world (no, not the orange one) Barack Obama recognised this and stuffed his wardrobe with identikit suit outfits to remove the element of choice in his morning routine. Being a wise, practical and non-dorito-coloured fella he recognised that his day was going to involve enough brain crunching, world changing decisions already – figuring out what to wear didn’t need to add to this. One suit to rule them all.
So rather than waiting for a lightning bolt epiphany to smite me like Zeus on a mountain top I thought best to follow B-Dog’s example and just make some quickfire choices. Nothing I was grappling with was going to alter the course of history in any significant way and while so bogged down in all the ‘what next’ I was in real danger of completely missing the here and now. I.e. my actual life, which, is actually pretty great. I needed to stop and smell the roses/kebab vans so I just tried to trust my insides as much as I could and made some small decisions and changes.
I’m still not certain about my current path, and my life certainly has an element of bobbing along with the tide right now – but I think that’s OK. Sometimes it’s fine to go with the ebb and flow, as long as you’re paying attention to the waves around you and exercising a bit of gratitude for how damn beautiful they are.
I certainly don’t feel alone in my sea of perpetual indecision. Every day I see friends, family, colleagues and passing snails completely fail at making the smallest choices – because we’re all overwhelmed. Our little WhatsApp, Netflix and 24/7-switched-on little brains are utterly fried and I don’t have the answer for curing the ills of our hyperactive modern society just yet. Slowing down, switching off and practicing a bit more stillness is definitely a start.
However, mindfulness and digital detoxes aside, the main thing we could all be a bit more aware of is that whichever paths we choose to walk in this multifaceted 21st century world, everything will be fine. Nobody will die if you buy the wrong type of quinoa and suns won’t implode if you decide not to go for that promotion then Steve from marketing goes and gets it. Despite all our first world strife, I think we’re all OK.