Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Risk of Not Choosing

Maybe there is a tipping point for everything. Do we ever do something the first time it occurs to us? Or do we have to think it several times before we are willing to take the risk?

Maybe that's what this is all about. Taking risks. Trying something new. Are we taking a risk every time we make a non-trivial decision? We are.

When we decide what to wear for a job interview, we risk wearing the wrong thing and missing out on a great career opportunity. When we decide how to get to a friends house, we risk choosing the path that will get us there more slowly. When we tell someone we love them, we risk a broken heart.

This is generally how we think about risk. Choosing to do something is taking a risk. We ignore the fact that not choosing is just as much of a choice.

When we choose to leave the money in our savings accounts untouched, we are taking a risk. Money we could have made by investing more aggressively is no different than money spent. Not telling someone how you truly feel about them is a risk too. Even putting off going to the grocery store for a few more days is a risk. We risk becoming used to eating out all the time, which costs us more money and negatively affects our health.

So, what are we to do? Life is just one risk after another.

I can be a pretty indecisive person. A lot of times I believe this stems from looking too much at all the possibilities. Even when I do have a preference, it always boils down to some shade of grey. Yes, I'd like to go there for dinner, but that means not going that other great restaurant. I swear, I can't seem to push myself much beyond favoring something 60/40.

If all the decisions are so close, then does it even really matter which one we choose? Sometimes it doesn't. But I think what is more important is that we do actually choose. The things that we put off, all those decisions that we don't make? Those are the ones that add up. The cost of putting them off one more day is very small. It's only much later, when we actually do what needs to be done, that we look back and wonder why we didn't do them sooner.

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