Jenny Coad

Decision breakers

We’re all striving for perfection and it’s driving us to distraction

‘The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision,’ said Maimonides. How right he was. Today, we are racked with choice, and decision-making has never been more fraught. It’s hell.

Look at restaurant menus. Anything longer than a page is alarming. So much margin for error. ‘Hold on a minute, I just need another look.’ ‘What’s the special, again?’ Glance at a neighbouring table. ‘That looks nice, is it the lamb?’ Turn to your partner. ‘What are you having?’

At least you’ve settled on a restaurant. Organising a dinner out generates endless back and forth between companions, jostling politely for position, lobbying for a venue in a more convenient postcode, suggesting somewhere a little less expensive or a touch more on trend: ‘I’ve heard this place is good’, ‘That’s quite far…’ ‘OK. What about x or y?’ ‘Maybe z?’

Part of the problem is technology. We’re in touch with everyone all the time via our phones and all looped into the decision-making process, whether on email, text message or WhatsApp. As a result, decisions can be delayed until the day (‘See how we feel’), the hour before (‘What about this?’) and even en route (‘Change of plan!’).

I met two friends in an empty restaurant the other day. They had drinks in front of them but the chooser of the restaurant was nervously shifting in her seat. ‘Should we go somewhere else? There’s another place I read about up the road?’ We hadn’t even opened the menu. My friend clearly felt the burden of having made the call. She didn’t want to get it wrong — when the right thing could have been just around the corner.

We’re constantly striving for perfection and it’s driving us to distraction.

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