The ‘cone of uncertainty’ and Impostor Syndrome

Millions of people had to decide whether to evacuate as Hurricane Irma came ashore in the Caribbean and then in Florida.

It’s hard to know what to do when you don’t have all the facts and when the facts you have change hourly. Hurricanes can be unpredictable. What if you make the wrong decision?

Katie Hawkins-Gaar wrote a piece for The Poynter Institute’s “The Cohort” newsletter about how hard it was to decide to evacuate to Atlanta. Her Poynter colleagues offered some practical strategies for making decisions when you’re stuck in a “cone of uncertainty” like the one hurricanes create.

Those tips — such as set a deadline, and evaluating the amount of energy the issue is worth — are also useful when you’re stuck because you doubt your ability to make a good decision. Fear of making the wrong decision can be just as paralyzing as needing more information than you can get.

If that’s you, this Slate story on Impostor Syndrome provides a useful perspective.

First, you’re not the only one who worries about whether you have what it takes. While it’s cliche to say you’re not alone, there is actually some safety in numbers. (Are you really the only one who ever made a bad decision, or who ever will? Just look around you.)

Second, while Impostor Syndrome was originally conceived as something that affects women, it has since been shown to affect both men and women. In other word, it’s part of the human experience.

Next time you’re frozen with self-doubt, try some of the strategies for making decisions. And cut yourself a break. You’re being human.

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