Decisions, or Not

I was listening to my brother David describe the details of embedding pipe stem in the concrete foundation of his workshop he’s about to build. I was about to ask him what happened if he decided to go with a different method of building the wall instead of the panels he has planned.

Suddenly, I had an epiphany. This was why I don’t make firm decisions.

I wouldn’t say I have a hard time making decisions. But I don’t enjoy it and usually end up leaving it to circumstances or whoever else is involved to decide. To get the connection, you have to understand that I am a programmer and a big part of what makes me good at it is my ability to run through the various possibilities and check out the logic. If I concentrate, I can run code in my head just like the computer, and I’ve been put on code inspection teams several times and found errors the developer just couldn’t find.

In my normal mode, I guess that there is some form of this going on all the time. What brought it out was a very concrete (!) example. As David was telling me about using pipe stem instead of anchor bolts in the foundation, my mind skipped ahead to “what if you change your mind and don’t do wall panels?” and I was able to catch the utter stupidity of such a question. Of course when you are building a building, you have decided what type of walls you are using before you start. But it allowed me to see what my mind is always doing: “the what if dance”.

To make a decision, you just decide. But when I need to decide something, I keep looking at all the ways it could be different or better or how the situation could change. So it’s more comfortable not to decide (which is also a decision) than to miss a possibility.

The amazing thing to me is that I was able to make this connection, in the middle of a conversation. Actually, I wasn’t sure that epiphany was the correct word to describe it, so I looked it up on The definition was exactly what I had.

epiphany: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

I can’t explain intuition!

So now I know what makes me do what I do, I doubt it will change much. I will still tend toward the comfortable. And I think that my brain is just wired for thinking this way. It definitely would not be comfortable to train it to think differently. But I can catch myself looking at possibilities and just decide.


  • I already caught myself on it when deciding what to call this post. I turned it off and just decided.
    How’s that for quick study?

  • I think I have a lot of that too. There is a point at which I have to force myself to quit looking at possibilities and just decide.

  • The funny thing is that I don’t think I actually enjoy looking at possibilities. It just happens without conscious intervention. Maybe programming has trained me to think this way.

    It might also explain my aversion to large amounts of data. It just seems overwhelming (so many possibilities).

  • I used to count things while doing tasks. I used to get motion sickness easily also. For years I took vitamin B. I have way less motion sickness now, and I don’t feel compelled to count anymore. My decision making is way quicker now too. Perhaps you are sorely lacking in vitamin B… or some other supplement that would make your brain perform differently as far as decision making goes…

  • Enjoyable insight!
    I certainly can relate. Most times I just pick what I think I like. The more I analyze the scales just get heaver, but still don’t swing one way or another.
    I love the tone of your post Joy. It makes me feel you are doing good. I like that.

  • Joy,

    Sometimes simplicity is harder to imagine than a more complex decisions.

    Our mother used to have a saying, which she had one for just about ever thing you could imagine, and it was “snow brown or snow white, just snow”. I have found this little saying a very big encouragement in time of procrastination.

    Procrastination is another form of not being able to make a decision. But … when one is made the feeling of relief is a lifted burden. Also, I believe we can train our thoughts to change the uncomfortable habits we have become comfortable with. Not easy, but we ask who is in control of us the habit, or us. That in itself is an eye-opener for change.

    Actually, the choices are what makes life interesting don’t you think. Having only one way of doing things might cause another entire problem of boredom and another topic for another day. Many a great mind has mulled over and over various ways to get to the moon and we finally did. Thank goodness we were not stuck on just one idea we may never have had the adventure.

    Keep thinking of variations and concepts and continue working on the procrastination.

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