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The 37 doors of indecision

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Sometimes, when it’s hard to know what to do and you’re confronted with many options, you try doing a little bit of everything. That’s like being in a hallway with 37 doors. The problem isn’t that you don’t have time to go through all 37 doors. The problem is that all of them send you back to the hallway – because you already know you’ve got lots of other options to pick from. And so…

You never get out of the hallway.

In my 25 years of working with clients, I’ve seen a lot of that. And I understand the allure. It’s hard not to ask yourself, “Wait! Let me just see what was behind that door.” And you check, and find it doesn’t lead anywhere useful, so then you’re back in the hallway, again wondering, “Well… maybe if I check just one more door…..”

And you wind up back in the hallway. And never make an actual decision.

What’s the opposite of endless options? Focus. And what is the number one thing that most very successful people say led them to real success? Focus.

Focused people still face just as many options as the rest of us. (Often more.) The difference is, they’re not opening each and every door to see where it might take them. They already know where they want to go, so it’s easy to rule out most of the doors because they lead someplace else. They’re good at listening for sounds coming through the door before they open it, and ruling it out if it doesn’t sound like where they’re heading. They may wind up trying a few doors to see if they lead to the right place – to their goal, that glorious place they can envision – but they’re not going to try all of them.

Sometimes, indecision is a symptom of bad decision-making. But more often, it’s a reflection of lack of focus. You don’t know where you want to go, so you try all 37 doors to see which room looks more alluring. The better way is to focus on what you’re trying to achieve, and to remove everything you can that’s in the way.

And then open the appropriate door.

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