Analysis Paralysis: What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

I emailed my subscribers a newsletter entitled "TGI....Do you smell that?" I included a picture of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

I was trying to convey a visual associated with what I call The Screw Face Test aka The Stench Test.

You know how you scrunch your face up when something stinks? It's also the face I make when something doesn't sit right with my spirit or my gut. I'm talking about decisions, not food here.

Have you been faced with a dilemma or a decision and didn't know what to choose? You're in that murky in-between and faced with analysis paralysis?

You could take a million online quizzes or shake an 8-ball or even build a multi-dimensional pros and cons list.

Or you could take the Screw Face Test. It relies on your gut.

Pick a possible decision. Does one alternative make your face scrunch up? Does it make you tilt your head to the side and say "ehhh"? What does your gut say? It's rarely wrong...

Now don't get all gut-crazy on me. Consider the legal and ethical sides too. But often, in right-vs-right dichotomies (as opposed to right-vs-wrong dillemas) the choice isn't so obvious. Your gut will guide you to what's most in line with your values.


What if for some reason the Screw Face tests yields a neutral result? No gut feeling, no iffy conjectures, no stirring of your spirit one way or another. Or may both alternatives stir your spirit in the same way.


Try the Front Page News Test. I use it to keep myself in check....a lot.


Pick a possible decision again but this time, write it out. On a piece of paper. By itself. BIG AND BOLD. Remove your name from it.


Now step back and read it as if you were reading today's newspaper headline.


It worked wonderfully with one of my clients - he wrote:

‘Unknown male who is constantly being disrespected by his significant other decides to to stay in the relationship because he doesn’t want to put in the effort it takes to get to know someone new and he’s getting older so this might be it for him’  WHAT? Unknown male is crazy!! wait....thats me!”


At various points in my life, I’ve used this test because I always seemed to be so great at giving others advice, but didn't practice what I preached. My self righteousness preached that I would never be caught in a situation like so and so would .... but for some reason, there I was, repeating the same pattern in a different way in my life. I’ve also seen friends, family and clients insist that others stop stooping to low levels, only to be doing the same in their own personal lives.

When comes to our own behavior, we often have blinders on. Remember that parable about the plank in the eye dude telling the spec in the eye dude that he has a huge problem? One way to combat this is to step back and remove ourselves from the situation. The Front Page News Test allows you to do so and read about it as if you were reading about someone else.


Next time you are faced with a difficult decisions and the magic 8 ball just isn't working for you, try the Stench and Front Page News Tests and let me know how it goes!