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A Perfectionist’s Advice for Overcoming Decision Fatigue

Workplace expert Lindsey Pollak walks you through the steps of analyzing and weighing options to making final decisions in a way that allows you to feel confident in your choices and enjoy reaping the rewards!

By Lindsay Pollak

Originally published at

I was recently at the nail salon, and I had to pick a color for my manicure. There must have been at least 400 options, so I narrowed it down by asking for a light pink — and there were still more than 50 shades to choose from.

I am embarrassed to tell you how ridiculously long it took me to make this decision.

Nail polish color is pretty much the definition of a low-stakes decision, but it illustrates how often we’re confronted by an overwhelming number of options. Particularly for perfectionists like me, this can easily lead to decision fatigue.

You can imagine how difficult career decisions can be for someone who can’t even choose between Sugar Daddy and Mademoiselle. (Stay tuned below for the exciting outcome of this nail polish drama – LOL!)

I’m going to be writing a third edition of my very first book, Getting From College to Career – to be published in 2024 – and it’s really brought me back to the mindset of a recent college graduate and the enormous number of career choices available. The reason I wrote Getting From College to Career back in 2007 was because I struggled to commit to a career choice when I first started out. The options have only multiplied for recent grads – and all the rest of us – since then.

I (obviously) still struggle with decision-making, but over the years, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about making better choices. If you sometimes struggle with decision fatigue in your career or elsewhere, here are some lessons I’ve learned:


Getting input from others can be a double-edged sword. I’m a really big fan of having mentors, career coaches and a network of people you trust to help you make tough decisions. But other people’s opinions are only helpful to a point.

Remember that people will always give you advice based on their perspectives.

I recently went shopping with a friend who convinced me to buy several outfits that were outside my comfort zone because she said I looked great in them. I appreciated her support and enthusiasm, but none of the clothes felt like me, so I ended up returning them.

Advice and input is great, but the final decision is always yours to make.


Collecting input is great to a point, but taking action is better.

The best way to overcome decision fatigue is to make a decision – literally any decision – and move on from there.

If you make the “wrong” decision — as I once did by signing a lease for an apartment I immediately regretted — you can either get out of it, learn from it or discover what’s‌ good about it. Here’s what I did: brought the real estate agent a huge flower bouquet and begged her to get me out of the deal… and it worked!

In my experience, indecision is the real enemy to your well-being. And if you don’t make any decisions, you’re just prolonging the pain of indecision. I often tell recent grads that even if a job offer ‌isn’t perfect, it’s still worth taking for the experience and the chance to learn more about your own preferences. You can always make another decision in the future.

As a perfectionist, I HATE this advice. What I hate even more is that it works.


I constantly have to remind myself that there is no perfect lunch order, no perfect seat on the airplane, no perfect blog post. You do your very best and iterate from there.

I recently attended an event where an incredibly successful hedge fund manager was speaking. An audience member asked how the manager handles the ups and downs of the stock market and his portfolio. He said that no matter how bad or good a day he has in the market he knows he can always come back and make a different decision tomorrow.

I think that’s great career advice, too. In the words of John Lennon, which I quoted in my book Recalculating, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

If you struggle with decision fatigue, let me assure you that you’re not alone. No choice is perfect, and recognizing that can give us the power we need to refine our options and make a decision.

So, how does my nail polish saga end? After seeing 50 shades of neutral pink, I still mixed two together to make my own shade!

About the Author

Lindsey Pollak is a New York Times best-selling author and one of the world’s leading career and workplace experts. She is passionate about helping individuals and organizations thrive in the ever-changing, multi-generational world of work.

Lindsey was named to the 2020 Thinkers50 Radar List, which honors the top global management thinkers whose work is shaping the future of how organizations are managed and led.

Her latest book is a response to the Covid crisis: Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work, which was published by HarperCollins on 23 March 2021.

Her previous book, The Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace (HarperCollins, 2019) was named a Book of the Month by both the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. She is also the author of two career advice books for young professionals: Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders and Getting from College to Career: Your Essential Guide to Succeeding in the Real World.

Lindsey’s speaking audiences and consulting clients have included more than 250 corporations, law firms, conferences and universities, including Aetna, Citi, Estée Lauder Companies, GE, Goldman Sachs, Google, Pfizer, Verizon, Yale, Harvard, Wharton and Stanford.

Her advice and opinions have appeared in such media outlets as The TODAY Show, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and NPR.

Lindsey is a Cappfinity Brand Ambassador and has served in the past as an official ambassador for LinkedIn, a Millennial workplace expert for The Hartford and chair of Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Millennial Advisory Board. In her philanthropic work, she serves as a board director of FourBlock, a national nonprofit that supports veteran career transition.

Lindsey is a graduate of Yale University and is based in New York City.

The views and opinions expressed by blog authors are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events®. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. IAEE makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. IAEE will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information.

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