Indecision is a form of procrastination that can paralyze you and keep you stuck in a loop. It can take up a huge amount of energy and wear you down.
Furniture is designed to last for years, so purchasing it usually needs some careful consideration. Unless you regularly move from place to place, it’s not something you buy, use for a few months, then sell or discard.
Yet in the homes of many clients I have worked with to help them clear their clutter, I have found items of furniture that were bought “just for now” to fill a need or fill a space, and 10 or 20 years later they are still there. They don’t love it, but the item still serves a useful function, so they keep it. And every time they see it, their energy drops a little because it was only ever supposed to be a temporary stopgap.
How perfectionism can get in the way
One of the four main categories of clutter is things you do not use or love. So if you buy temporary furniture that you use but do not love, then it’s already 50% clutter before it even arrives in your home.
It is much better to wait and buy items you really love and want. However, for people with perfectionist tendencies, this can take a long time. An extreme example is Steve Jobs, who reportedly spent eight years discussing with his wife which furniture to buy for their family home. The iconic photo of him sitting cross-legged on the polished floor boards of his living room, with just a lamp to illuminate the space, says it all.
In his biography, Walter Isaacson reports that when sick, Jobs went though sixty-seven nurses before finding one he liked. He also insisted on a choice of seven or eight fruit smoothies to choose which one he preferred, until his doctor put him straight by saying, ‘Stop thinking of this as food. Start thinking of it is as medicine.’
I give these examples to show how crippling perfectionism can be, and how it often masquerades as discernment and good taste rather than the neurotic finickiness and inability to commit that it really is. You don’t find obsessive perfectionism in Third World cultures. It’s a First World form of neurosis.
Set yourself a deadline
When purchasing an expensive item such as furniture for your home, it is wise to give yourself a reasonable deadline (say, three months at the most) so that the process doesn’t drag on too long. Indecision is a form of procrastination that can take a huge toll on your energy and wear you down.
If you can afford it, ordering something bespoke that meets all your requirements can be a good solution. But even then, don’t hold out for perfection. Persian rug weavers, Amish quilters, and some tribes of American Indian blanket makers all subscribe to creating a deliberate imperfection in their art to remind us we are human, not gods. Don’t get hung up on too many details.
If bespoke is beyond your means and your deadline arrives and you still haven’t made your choice, pick the best of the bunch, buy it, and get on with your life.
The coin-flip method of making a decision
If it comes down to a choice of two things and you don’t know which you prefer, use the old coin-flip method to decide. Just remember: You don’t have to abide by the result of the coin flip
Use it to help you to clarify your feelings, not to make a decision for you. If it comes down heads and this highlights for you that you really wanted tails, ignore what the coin flip says and follow the path you really want. Coin-flipping can be very helpful in that way.
Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2016, updated 2023
Perfectionism is the great paralyzer
Zero Procrastination online course
Like to read more articles like this?
Subscribe to my newsletters to receive news, articles and information about upcoming online courses by email. And I promise you – no junk mail ever.