There are often great, convenient reasons to avoid making a decision.
We don't have time. We want to protect someone's feelings. We want to be nice. Ultimately, these are all excuses we create to cover up our own fear, says Ramit Sethi, personal finance guru and author of the New York Times Bestselling I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
In 2004, Sethi launched his online education course business, also called I Will Teach You To Be Rich, starting with personal finance and later expanding into how to get a dream job and how to launch an online business. Today, Sethi has 17 online educational courses, 30,000 paying customers, and over 600,000 email subscribers.
One of the pillars of living a "rich life" is learning to be efficient when making decisions. Sethi learned this lesson from a very angry venture capital investor, he told the audience at his first large-scale live experience Forefront, held earlier this month in New York City.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich has taken zero outside funding. At his last company, Sethi had been considering changing the pricing structure for a while, going back and forth about whether it was the right call, whether the choice would alienate their customers, whether they had enough data to make the decision, and so on. A venture capitalist Sethi was talking to at the time became impatient.
"You have been talking about this for four effing months. Make a decision!" he told Sethi.
Sethi realized that the frustrated investor had a point.
"He was right. We were paralyzed about all the things that could happen and it actually would have been better for us to make a decision, even if we were wrong, than to sit there and do nothing."
As Sethi has gotten better at making decisions, he has also made room in his life and brain for other more productive thoughts. He has also found that he isn't tortured by regret.
"I freed up time, I freed up a bunch of space. I never really thought about that again, honestly. Once I made a decision, it was like mental quicksand left behind me, and it actually allowed me to free up my limited energy for stuff that was more important."
Sethi isn't the first, nor will he be the last, to be tormented by indecision.
A song by the Canadian rock band Rush sums it up precisely: "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."