How To Deal With Decision Paralysis

by | Aug 19, 2020 | Coaching Tips Series

This post is part of my special Coaching Tips Series. This series was inspired by my clients and the core themes in their challenges. When we can apply these tips, we bring a lot of ease into our lives and step into our leadership.

Decision Paralysis

Some of my clients are amazingly detail-oriented and conscientious. They make data-driven decisions and you value the knowledge that comes from accuracy and detail. They are experts in their subjects. It’s amazing.

And yet, decision paralysis regularly rears it’s annoying head.
Am I saying that they never make decisions? Absolutely not. But making key decisions (or even small ones) can sometimes be really hard.

“But I need more information first, I’ll do a complete research project on it”
“Ooh that’s interesting, let me check out this slightly related topic first”
“If I can categorise this data, then I can create a great visual that will show me the answer”

Often the first step on the path to that rabbit hole of not making the decision.


Being a stickler? Wanting to get it right? All of these play a part.

So what’s the remedy? How can you switch out of the paralysis of not making a decision, to actually taking action?
I’ve put my answer in the form of this coaching tip.

Coaching tip

  • Focus on what matters
  • Let it (the details) go
  • Do something

And the order you do this is interchangeable. Yet if you are a stickler like me, you might need to start with a mini mantra about the details not being important so that you can redirect your attention to the bigger picture/bottom line.

But how do you actually let it go and focus on what matters? It can be as simple as saying this to yourself.
“I have enough information. Now what’s the big picture here?

You might just need to say it a few times.

Situation and Application of this Coaching Tip

I came across this poem and the poster said it is poem by Charlie Chaplin. As I started to read this poem I thought immediately that I needed to share it. There is so much wisdom in it that I wish for my clients, and of course myself. But if I’m going to share something, then I want to make sure that it’s real – i.e. did Charlie Chaplin really write it?

What I discovered is that people think he did, but nobody knows. As I was checking out my google search results I realised that I hadn’t even finished reading the poem. I had gone so fast into my automatic “checking” mode without realising it.

But what was the rest of the poem about? Could I share it? How could I find out for sure? The first steps towards the descent to the rabbit hole…

Letting it go

I asked myself “Does it even matter if this was written by Charlie Chaplin?”
Not really. Yes I believe authors should get credit but the author is the detail.The poem itself is what mattered to me then. It’s such a rich source of questions for self reflection and wisdom, that the author could be anon and it would have the same value.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (this one is definitely William Shakespeare!)

Focus on what matters

This is the bottom line message I get from the poem:
When I begin to love myself… that’s where it all starts.

Do something

That’s the what I need to do: love myself.
And it’s something we all find so hard. But take the first step. Show yourself some love and read the poem.

Well now, with all this build up, it better be an amazing poem!

Here it is:

amber rahim coaching poem love myself decision paralysis

So here’s a bit of a fun fact I found about this poem.  It turns out that this is one of those times where instead of being lost in translation, it improved with collaboration.   This poem is based on a book called “When I Loved Myself Enough”, by Kim and Alison McMillen.
It was then translated into Portuguese by Iva Sofia Golcalves Lima, and then translated back into English, and with each translation, it became a lot more special. 

Are you paralysed by making decisions? Let’s open the conversation – get in touch.

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