Last summer there was so much road construction in our neighborhood, it was hard to get anywhere. They replaced several 4-way stops in our city with roundabouts. Our house is sandwiched between 3 of them.
Have you driven through a roundabout (aka traffic circle)? Round and round. Not sure which way to go.
Roundabouts improve traffic flow, except for the first time you drive through one. It’s confusing. There are signs everywhere with crazy squiggly arrows. Do you need to be in the inside lane or the outside lane? Who yields to who?
Once you’ve gone through once, and especially if it is a roundabout you travel through often, it becomes second nature.
But every time you go through a new one, it’s like learning all over again. (No two roundabouts are the same…even in our city.)
Decision-Making is Like Driving a Roundabout
You’ve heard of “a fork in the road”, but with choice overload these days “a roundabout in the road” is a better analogy for a decision.
Decorating is a series of decisions made one after another that need to all work together.
And, decorating is full of choice overload!
The first time you have to make a new type of decision, it’s easy to misread the signs and get stuck going round and round. Or worse, getting out of the roundabout only to go back where you came from.
The more often you make decorating decisions, and the same type of decorating decisions, the easier it gets to navigate the roundabout. The more confident you feel that you are in the right lane and taking the right exit.
So, how do you go through a roundabout (make a decorating decision) for the first time?
Let me draw some comparisons between traffic roundabouts and the decision-making process in your brain.
To make it through a roundabout without crashing into the center (yes, that actually happens) or being forced off the wrong exit, you must:
- Obey traffic signs
- Slow down as you enter traffic circle, and yield to cars already in circle
- Stay in the correct lane for your exit
- If you miss your exit, keep moving forward, because it will come around again
- Confidently exit, the other cars entering the roundabout have yielded waiting for you
The next time you want to go to the same place, remember which lane you were in for that exit last time so that you can ignore the confusing signs.
To make a decorating decision without second-guessing yourself and agonizing over it for days or weeks is a similar process. You must:
- Follow your instincts
- Take it easy on yourself and pay attention to your intuition
- Stay focused on the outcome you want
- If you are unsure, let it rest for a moment and come back to it
- Confidently choose and move on. There are other decisions to be made.
The next time, remember what you loved about the last similar decision you made. Your instincts were right before, follow them again.
Try These 3 Steps to End the Decision Overwhelm
Before you throw things at the computer screen, while screaming, “BUT, HOW? How do I decide?!?!?”, Hold on a sec. Follow these three simple steps for easier decision-making:
1. Know Where You Want to Go
I say it all the time when I am driving (usually behind another car slowing down to read every street name), “If you don’t know where you are going, you shouldn’t be on the road.”
So, in decorating terms, if you haven’t figured out your decorating style, you shouldn’t be heading to the furniture store. You need to know your decorating style before you can make any good decisions for your space.
2. Think Clearly (and Quickly) About Your Options
Information is good. Spending tons of time over-analyzing information is bad. Clear and quick is what you need here.
In the roundabout example, you can often take two different routes to get to the same place. But, which one gets you there faster? Unless you like to waste time and gas driving, I bet you’ll choose the quicker route.
When it comes to decorating, you could paint your room light blue or dark blue, but which one will work best in your north-facing room? You can likely rule out entire categories of colors before you even head to the paint store.
And, if you think staring at the paint chip just a little bit longer, studying it’s light reflective value, and using Google image search to see how the color looks in other homes will help you make a good decision, think again. Studies have shown that more information doesn’t make your decisions better and might make them worse.
3. Decide and Go With It
Decisions are hard to make, because saying yes to one option means saying no to all the other options.
But, once you know where you want to go and which way gets you there faster, you don’t need to give the other exit a second thought.
If you know you want your room to feel soft and refreshing and dark wall colors in a north-facing room make you depressed, you don’t need to bother looking at the other colors on the paint swatch.
You probably think I am over simplifying this, but be honest with yourself about how many options you are agonizing over that aren’t even good choices. Either they don’t add to the feeling you want for the room or they are an obviously wrong choice.
My hubby and I both hate red. We are always seduced by it, but it never works for us. So, anytime I suggest something in red to my husband I get the stink-eye. He knows it is a bad idea and knows I shouldn’t even be considering it. For us, red is always off the table.
See how many things you can take off the table before decision time. By honing in what your style is and what your style isn’t, you can take lots of things off the table, because you know they aren’t right for you.
Whatever You Do, Keep Moving Forward
I don’t care if you are driving through a roundabout or making a decorating decision, the most important thing you can do is keep moving forward and find your exit. If you just go round and round, you’ll never get where you want to go.
In the words of Theodore Roosevelt,
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
Share a decorating decision you are waffling on in the comments, and I’ll walk you through the three steps!