The Most Risky Choice Is Not Making One

06/10/2015 03:53 pm ET | Updated Jun 09, 2016

Do you ever find yourself unable to make a decision? Vacillating between two, three or even more choices?

The choices seem momentous. Or, maybe they aren't huge, but you know that each choice has consequences. Each choice we make takes us down a road, or further down the road that we are on, and you want to make sure it's the right road!

So, we vacillate back and forth, weighing the options and the risks associated with each one, playing out the possible effects, unable to make up our minds. Eventually life takes over and we find ourselves on a road of some kind, going somewhere.

I'm here to tell you that the most risky choice is not making one.

Seriously. Not choosing is choosing.

What's that, again?

Not choosing is a choice, although we don't usually think of it that way or treat it that way.

The fallacy is that by not making a choice, we think we are keeping our options open. We think of this state of being as having power, because we are withholding our commitment. We think we can bestow our commitment on some choice in the future.

Let's dig a bit deeper into this. In the natural order of being, certainty trumps uncertainty, commitment and intention trump limbo.

As human beings, we crave commitment and certainty. We need to know the sun is going to rise in the morning, or we can't get out of bed, to bring this down to brass tacks.

So, in the absence of you making a choice, let's be clear that a choice gets made.

What happens is that we allow others' commitments, intentions and priorities to fill the void left by our own lack of commitment, priority and choice.

By not choosing, we allow others' priorities to become your own. When you have a choice vacuum, it will get filled by others who have made choices.

So what do you do when you can't seem to make up your mind?

First, give yourself a set amount of time. Give yourself two hours or two day or until the end of the week to make a choice. The scale and urgency of the choice will dictate how much time you should contemplate it.

Second, solicit input and advice, but do it carefully. Not everyone is a good person to discuss your choices. You need supportive confidantes who will also tell you the truth, not what you want to hear.

You also don't need 10 opinions. Two or three is a good number. You don't need to be more overwhelmed because so many people are weighing in.

Third, make sure you are comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges. You might want to write down a pro and con list for each option so that you can see it in front of you in black and white. Once you do this, the choice might become obvious.

Fourth, when you reach your deadline, make the best choice you can with the options and information you've got. Commit to your choice and get into action.

Fifth, refrain from second-guessing yourself until you've given your choice a chance. If you're constantly second-guessing, you aren't really committing to your choice.

If you find that you can't seem to stop second-guessing yourself, then use the old time trick. Give yourself a date at which time you'll assess and then get back into action. The assessment date shouldn't be too soon or too far out. But if you aren't sure, then just set a date, and, again, get into action.

Sixth... be empowered! It's your life. You are the dog, not the tail. Have your life instead of your life having you. You will make mistakes and the "wrong" choice sometimes, but you will have made it. There is power and freedom in this, so embrace it!

Here's to all your great choices...


Shawn Tolleson is a career coach working with screenwriters and other entertainment industry professionals. She gives you the practical tools you need to accomplish your dream career. Check out blogs, videos, classes and more at!

© Shawn Tolleson, Strategy Coaching, Inc. 2015