Years ago, when my middle son was in graduate school at Oregon State University, my husband, youngest son, and I visited him. We took a trip north from Corvallis, Oregon through Washington state. We hoped to see the sights of the Pacific Northwest.
We visited Portland, Mount Saint Helens, Lewis and Clark State Park, and other points of interest along the way to Seattle.
Late one afternoon we decided to stop for a bite to eat before reaching our destination. This was in the days before easy Google searches to locate a restaurant. The four of us could not decide the best course of action. We could not agree on a place to eat.
We turned down several potential eateries, continuing on our drive and getting hungrier and more agitated by the minute.
Finally, we stopped and got out of the car to explore the dining options in a harborside town, but our luck did not improve. We could find no suitable restaurants on which we could all concur. By that time, we were all hangry and tired. We could not decide where to eat dinner.
By that time, the shops in town were closing. In a fit of desperation, I approached a shop owner who was locking her door for the day and asked her to give me a recommendation.
She graciously gave me directions to a nearby restaurant. The place was perfect.
It was located right on the water with incredible harbor views. The menu was varied and the food delicious. We all found something appealing to eat.
In what might have been the biggest stroke of luck, the television above the bar featured the Phillies baseball game, even though we were 3,000 miles away from Philadelphia. And the Phillies were winning big.
We left the restaurant full, satisfied, and happy after a wonderful dinner and a Phillies win.
Making a decision, even a simple decision like where to have dinner is not always easy.
We complicate the procedure by bringing too much information into the mix. We believe collecting more data is beneficial, but by bringing too many options into the decision-making process, we actually make the decision much harder.
When there are several individuals involved in making the decision, we try to anticipate others’ wishes, which complicates the operation even more.
Throw in physical factors like hunger, discomfort, tiredness, and boredom, and the decision becomes even more agonizing.
And we don’t want to fail.
When we fear making a bad choice, the decision-making process becomes fraught with pitfalls.
In a recent post, I wrote about how the book Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel made a difficult decision easier for me to make.
Through a series of serendipitous occurrences, last month I was presented with the incredible opportunity to enter and run the London Marathon this fall. The offer included a reasonable price tag, no small factor for someone (like me) who pinches her pennies.
Initially, I included too many factors in the decision. Would my husband enjoy the trip? Will the pandemic allow international travel this fall? Do I want to subject myself to the rigors of marathon training?
Adding travel logistics into the mix made the decision even harder. Should we extend the trip to try to see more of the sights of London? How about adding a side trip to Scotland? Ireland? Flights? Hotels?
I found myself in the same position as my family was in when we tried to find a suitable place to eat. I was overwhelmed and unable to determine the best course of action.
Finally, using the techniques I learned in the book, I was able to ask the most pertinent question. What is the time limit for the marathon?
You see, the hamstring injury I suffered from for two years has not really gone away, it has just subsided. It reappears whenever I do a long run – say anything over 12 or 13 miles. Running a marathon definitely would stress the hamstring.
This was the most important factor I needed to consider before making my decision.
As it turns out, the London Marathon has a very generous time cutoff of 9.5 hours. I could walk 26.2 miles in that amount of time.
My plan right now is to run the first half of the marathon, then walk the second half of the race if my hamstring dictates it.
I can have the experience of participating in the London Marathon and be confident I can finish the race within the official time limit.
Reading the book gave me the tools to refine and streamline my decision-making process. It allowed me to ask the most relevant question. It got me past the quagmire of indecision.
If only I had read the book before we tried to find a restaurant all those years ago in Washington. We could have been eating sandwiches and watching the Phillies even sooner. And without all the angst.
“It’s not about making the right choice. It’s about making a choice and making it right.” – J. R. Rim
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