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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

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Thursday
Jul292010

Bang. Bang. Bang bang.

A lot of stuff is going on, most of which I cannot yet discuss. (Professional matters, I’m talking about. In my personal life, all is pleasantly on track.) I have decisions to make. I’m spending way too much time writing pro and con lists. And slamming my head against the table. Again and again. How do you decide what to do? Do you make lists? Do you consult with friends? Rattle the bones of your ancestors? Stare at tea leaves?

So! In other news, this is the funniest impersonation I’ve heard in as long as I can remember. And that’s a long time. I am quite old.

Reader Comments (46)

Dithering annoys me, especially when I'm the one doing it. So I just decide (usually based solely on which option seems most attractive) and let the chips fall where they may.

Good luck...
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commentera
well cats in pants, fins! i showed that to my husband and he showed it to yours, and now here it is.

i love the internet.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterthe grumbles
I usually lay down in the grass, look up at the puffy clouds and see what shapes they make. If I can recognize any shapes as seeming similar to whatever choice I've got- that's the one I pick.

It's foolproof. Except on rainy days. Doesn't work so well then.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSuzRocks
I'm a weirdo and I just trust that my instinctual answer is the one I should take. Then I don't look back.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
I have a few drinks and then decide. You know, cause I'm WAY smarter after some rum!
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHolly
I sleep on it, give my mind a rest, do something absolutely different. Then go back and ask myself again. Generally the answer arises from the deep. The answer is in there - you just have to clear the way to let it come out.

Also, ask yourself what you want the answer to be - might clear-up why you're having so much indecision.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCora D
If you are saying "should" about one of the options, don't do it. "Should's" never work out.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersuburbancorrespondent
Your gut. Stop making lists. Sit in silence and just feel. Don't think.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSpring
I think the previous commenters are oversimplifying the problems of decision-making, because it's impossible to know thge outcomes of your choices. Like, if you're deciding between swimming or bowling and you choose swimming, an earthquake might open a ravine in the bottom of the pool, causing you to fall into a pit of molten lava, in which case you should have gone bowling. Or you could bowl and someone might have hidden rotten bananas in your bowling shoes.

Seriously, though, for major decisions my method is to gather as much information as possible, talk endlessly about the possible ramifications of the various options until no one can stand to be around me, make the best decision I can, and then pray about it.

For smaller decisions I procrastinate until my options close and I don't have a choice.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterZina
Also, that hypothetical was purely hypothetical, because in real life I would never bowl. Who wants to look so dorky trying to make that cannonball thing roll straight without breaking off my fingers?

Swimming is also a bad idea, because of swimsuits.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterZina
I second (fourth?) following your gut. Gathering information can only get you so far -- nobody can see into the future. If it's the choice you really want to make, you'll make it work somehow.

Also, that Ian McKellen thing is HILARIOUS.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAshley
Play the "What's The Worst That Can Have If" game. If the worst that can happen isn't too terrible, do it. If it is, default to Idea #5: When in doubt, drink.

Good luck!
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan
Flip a coin, dude. Then you'll either feel relief if the right thing comes up, or be forced to seriously consider a thing you deep down don't want and you will know it is wrong. And don't tell the coin, but you then you can ignore the results and do what you think is best. But somehow, for me, it really does help clarify what I *don't* want.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeredith
I talk about it until everyone is sick of listening; I make mental pro and con lists; I look for comparable situations to analyze; I tell myself (over and over) that (with the exception of when we were deciding to have a child) you can always change your mind later, and when I think about what the lumps will be in doing so its usually not all that bad. And, after all that, I go with my gut, because by then I really know what it is I want to do deep down.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCara
Maybe you should ask the Ian McKellen impersonator. He can do Popeye! Which means he has all of life's answers.Or you can consult the iScopes button on your iPhone. There's an app for that...
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOrion
Huge decisions, I tend to make pretty instantly, in a follow-your-gut kind of way. Then, after the decision is made, all of my neurotic obsessive tendencies come out and play and I agonize over it endlessly until whatever it is is finally happening.

Tiny decisions, though? They absolutely fucking paralyze me. Don't ask me to pick something off a giant menu in a reasonable amount of time without having a small-scale anxiety attack first.

So, I suppose my advice is...decide first, agonize later?
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiss B
I ask everyone I love and trust (it's a small group) and then usually make the opposite choice.

On the impersonation...his voice very much reminded me of the SNL impersonation of Sean Connery.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkdahlface
I agree with some of the previous posters...go with your gut.And that video was priceless.Best,Tina
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTina
When one of my high school students was trying to decide between two boyfriends, I told her to pick the one with more money. She responded, "They both have money," and sighed even more heavily. I spent the next 20 minutes telling her that I was kidding. Obviously, I'm no good with advice.

I think you're onto something with headbanging, since that's what I do. Agonize, write lists, and drive your friends/family crazy with questions. Then, you will be too tired and tortured to make the wrong decision.

Fatigue always points to the truth.

Good luck!
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGreta Koenigin
Depends on what you're deciding between. If it's an opportunity that you can either take or pass on, I try to imagine what I'd feel like if the opportunity (or whatever you're deciding on) wasn't an option anymore. Would I be sad that I missed out? Hurt that I was passed over? Any feeling that is of the negative variety if I don't choose that direction? Guess I need to go with it then, even if it's a scary, unknown path before you. However, if you realize you wouldn't feel sad about letting that option go, in fact, you feel a bit of relief...then pass it by.Hope that makes sense. And good luck.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBellacantare
I'm with Bellacantare - I go with the "What if I don't?" school of thought. Think hard about how you'd feel if you don't do whatever it is that you're considering, and that may help you realize what you really want to do.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMJ
Okay, sorry about your decision, but let's get to the important stuff - isn't it, "I'm strong to the FINISH, 'cause I eats me spinach"????
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGina
Usually I just wait until it all starts to make sense on its own. In other words, I need time to fidn out what my gut tells me...
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatka
Women have been especially conditioned to ignore their instincts, yet we are incredibly intuitive.

We are also socialized to think of others (family, neighbors, friends, colleagues, the community at large, the company) first.

And while you cannot compare apples to oranges, you can certainly break a decision down by making a graded list.

So, I advise the following to anyone making a "big" decision:

1) Describe the actual problem/dilemma/challenge/choice very clearly so you know what you are dealing with.

2) Write down ALL your concerns that come to mind about this issue in a brainstorm. Don't "think", just write until you feel the momentum slowing down.

3) Sit calmly and talk to yourself about the situation for a few minutes. Pay attention to what you are focusing on most about it.

4) Write an extensive list of pros/cons about your choices in the matter, taking cues from the previous exercises. For example, if you are deciding to move because of a job, compare the new place to your current one (home/town/etc.) as well as the new job vs. your current one. If it's applicable, use your senses (sight, touch, taste, smell, sound, etc.)

5) Go back and attach a "grade" of 0-10 to each factor in the list. In other words, is it very important for you to stay near your extended family? Then it's a 10. Would the new commute be easier? Maybe that's an 8.

6) Circle items that seem non-negotiable, like giving up your dream home.

7) Step away from the list and meditate for a few minutes. Clear your head.

8) Now, look back at the list and note which items actually have to do with your concern for others or other's expectations.

9) Condense the list down to those things that really matter to you the most. Is a new career challenge exciting for you - a 10? Is showing your kids that life is about adventure, not predictability very important to you - a 9?

10) Finally, re-read everything then call your best friend or closest confidante. Ask them to ask you the following questions:

a) If you had nothing holding you back, what would you do in this situation?

b) What is your greatest fear about choosing one way or the other?

c) What is your gut telling you?
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwietog
Thank you for that video. Speaking of being old, the one with The Fresh Prince of Bel Air is stupendous.

I make decisions by worrying about them until I've procrastinated and the decision gets made for me, or by boring my husband to death with the details until I've decided on my own.
July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlyce

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