Decision Paralysis

Do not plant your dreams in the field of indecision, where nothing ever grows
but the weeds of ‘what-if.’” ~Dodinsky

In the previous post, I described decision fatigue. This post addresses an extreme case of decision fatigue known as “decision paralysis.”

Decision Paralysis

According to Wikipedia, “decision paralysis” refers to over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation toToo Many Choices the point that “a decision or action is never taken.” However, decision paralysis also refers to the situation that occurs when decisions are overly complicated or include too many options such that action is taken without consideration of the options. Depending on the scenario, some people believe it is better to try something (even if it is the easiest option) rather than face decision paralysis while searching for an optimal or perfect solution.

Decision Paralysis Scenario

In a scenario described by Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, “A group of doctors are told that they have a 67-year-old patient [who is] suffering from arthritis in his hip. He’s taken several medications, but none of the medication has helped. The next step is a hip replacement. The doctors find out that the patient hasn’t tried one medication that may alleviate the symptoms. If the medicine works, he would not need surgery. Forty-seven percent decide to try the medication before replacing the patient’s hip.

Another group of doctors were given the same scenario, except they were told that the patient hasn’t tried two medications that might alleviate his symptoms. This time, only twenty-eight percent of the doctors opt to try medication first.”

Curious DoctorWhat accounts for the difference? According to Chip and Dan Heath, “decision paralysis is to blame for the difference.” Having too many choices causes some people to select the option that requires the least amount of thinking.


What is your preferred solution for decision paralysis? In what areas of your life are you faced with an overwhelming set of choices? What are you avoiding so you won’t have to make a decision? What decisions take more than 15 minutes of your time?


Click here to read another Beyond Adversity post.

Thank you to Bing, Wikipedia, Chip and Dan Heath, Amazon, and the many other people who contributed to the content of this post.

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