Paralyzed

Too many choices can be paralyzing. This really stood out to me in a piece about President Obama by Vanity Fair. They touch on the concept by stating:

“One of my most important tasks,” he’d said, “is making sure I stay open to people, and the meaning of what I’m doing, but not to get so overwhelmed by it that it’s paralyzing. Option one is to go through the motions. That I think is a disaster for a president…”

By making sure the small decisions are taken care of, he can focus on the bigger decisions. It reminds me of the story of Buridan’s donkey:

Buridan’s donkey is standing halfway between a pile of hay and a bucket of water. It keeps looking left and right, trying to decide between hay and water. Unable to decide, it eventually falls over and dies of hunger and thirst.

When one’s willpower gets depleted of the ability to make a quality choice, then we tend to make no choice at all or default to the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, that can result in bad quality choices over the long term. We get paralyzed and simply do nothing.

Make a choice. Adjust your course. Choose again.

Just don’t stop.