Stuck together: When none of the options feel right, but aren’t wrong either

Lauree Ostrofsky on real-life monsters

I am so good at not making a decision.

Nothing against folks who get stuck in other ways, but clearly Wafflers are the best. I mean who else can have an entire conversation in our own heads, taking on every possible viewpoint? Very convincingly, I might add.

OK, OK, it’s also frustrating. When I’m in full-on Waffler mode, I feel like I’ll never decide.

But I truly believe it’s a skill. Wafflers are super smart. We have been raised to believe we can think our way through almost anything. There must be a perfect option. We must get it “right” with enough documented proof that everyone will unanimously support our decision, even those special holdouts in our lives that we’ve been trying to prove ourselves to since forever.

I’m often disappointed I don’t get extra credit for thinking so conscientiously through every possible permutation when making a decision. It’s a shame it doesn’t work that way. That doesn’t stop me from doing it, mind you, I just also would like credit for it.

My new book, “SIMPLY LEAP: Seven Lessons on Facing Fear and Enjoying the Crap out of Your Life,” was written with fellow A students in mind: the hard workers, over-thinkers, and diligent flossers among us who can get so caught up in getting a decision right they can’t move forward.

Among the many reasons to love us, though, is that when we do make a decision, we move fast, put the plan in place, know what we’re doing and why. When Unstuck asked me to write on behalf of Wafflers, I was honored. Just like A-student strivers, we Wafflers are serious — and fun! — and deserve someone who respects how valuable and special our waffling can be.

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Here’s what I think is so great about waffling (and why sometimes we get stuck):

We make the best negotiators. We innately see all options, which means our powers can easily be channeled to know what the other side will say and how to find the middle ground where everyone involved gets as much of what they want as possible. In fact, we value middle ground so highly, we can hang in longer in negotiations than others. Both sides would be lucky to have us at the table with them.

We are the most conscientious partners, neighbors, and employees. Anyone who can consider so many possibilities at once, and see so many of them worthy of consideration, is a kindhearted human being in other areas of their lives, too. Five out of five dentists love us. Teachers, too. Growing up I was the kid my friends’ parents would encourage them to emulate. It may be embarrassing at age 13, but at all other times it’s worthwhile. But I don’t have to tell you that, fellow Wafflers and A students, do I? You’ve been winning that contest for as long as you knew one existed.

We have great instincts. Really, you may be wondering, if we have such good instincts wouldn’t we be able to decide faster? While it’s true we can talk ourselves into, out of and back into just about anything, our waffling is a sign of our sensitivity and self-awareness.

If we can tune into our waffling, we can find the moment the waffling starts, because right before that is when we know what we want. Even when a decision feels hard, deep down we have our answer; we just need to trust it long enough to move forward. Waffling tends to happen after we’ve already decided, and then our brains tell us we probably should check all other options just so we can prove intellectually that this decision is the best.

We think we can’t possibly know the answer without proof, when in reality we knew what was right for us all along. Emphasis on the “for us” part, because any choice needs to work for you, no matter what you think your family, friends, and holdouts have to say about it.

If you take nothing from this post, please let it be this:

Go back to the moment before you needed to prove your decision to anyone else other than yourself. That’s when you knew. That’s all you need to know.

Much love from your fellow Waffling A student,

Lauree Ostrofsky helps people love their lives, work, and each other more every day. As chief hugger and coach at Simply Leap, she works with successful, mostly-satisfied professionals who are ready for a career change but haven’t figured out yet what they want. Her first Unstuck post was Being Scared Is Brave.

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