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Stick or Twist? - The Paralysis of Indecision

Posted on 7/06/2022 by Helen Corke

I’m not sure about you, but in the last few years I have been suffering from a severe bout of indecisiveness.  It can be totally paralysing and extremely frustrating. What to prioritise?  Who or what to put first? Where to live? What job to take? Which school to choose? What to risk/invest?  Frankly, the list could be endless.  It’s not helped, of course, by the fact that we have been living in the most extraordinary of times, with unheard of restrictions still currently in force over here in Asia.  Life has simply not been ‘normal’.  I think it’s fair to say most of us in Hong Kong have been in survival mode and just doing all we can to keep putting one foot in front of the other until we are finally able to reunite with loved ones abroad and return to some sort of normality.

As we finally see the light at the end of the Covid tunnel, it’s likely just a matter of time before another virus pops up, but I dearly hope we have all learnt enough from this ghastly experience to be able to better manage it when, sadly not if, something like this strikes again.  We are now tantalisingly close to the end of our restricted lives in Hong Kong, and for those who jumped ship I wonder if they wish they’d stayed, or if making that decision to move has proved the right one, a fateful one even.  What I have learnt is that it is extremely hard to make good decisions when all those things we take for granted have gone, and that the most important thing is to be brave enough to jump, take that leap of faith and trust your instincts.  For those of us that stayed, we are nearly through this!!!  For those who left a job or country, bravo for being decisive and having the courage and conviction to make a leap of faith.

So, what can we do to help ensure we make the right decisions for ourselves and our families in times of extreme stress?  In terms of work, I have always asked myself “What difference am I making through my work?” and “What impact am I having?. I feel strongly that if I’m to be away from family and loved ones the purpose of my work must feel meaningful.  During these challenging times I have seen so many people decide to quit and change direction for the better, which I wholeheartedly support, but it can often be a scary prospect to tackle.  To find joy and meaning from your work is hard but exceptionally important, especially when we find ourselves in survival mode.  Here are some great tips to try and help you with any hard decisions that you might be in the midst of making, and I hope they help to bring some clarity to those seeking it:

Write down the pros and cons to visualize and evaluate

List what you like and dislike about each potential direction you could take. Writing forces you to think about and isolate each instance for evaluation. Visualizing your options can also help you organize your thoughts and feel more in control of your thinking. Creating criteria you think are important to the decision in the first column and then pros and cons in the next two columns can help.

Get advice from another person

Making a decision doesn’t have to be a solo activity. You can tap into other people’s minds and perspective. If the topic is something you feel comfortable sharing, reach out to a trusted colleague, friend or family member. If the person has your best interest in mind, they may be able to help you make an important decision. They may be able to see an aspect that you missed. Their experience may provide insight into what might happen if you choose a particular route. Use the input from others to help you make the best decision for yourself.

Accept that there may not be a right decision, and respect your decision.

After conducting your own evaluation and seeking advice from others, you will have a better sense of what decision you should make. Still, there may be instances in which you are still torn or wrestling with two options. This is where your gut comes in. After you have conducted all the logical analysis and reasoning, use your feelings to guide you. Give yourself a deadline to make a decision. Once that deadline arrives, make the decision and allow yourself to feel at peace. Trust yourself. Respect yourself. Love yourself. Life is about doing the best you can, and that is all you can ask of yourself.

Tips source from forbes at:

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