Remember that 1980’s TV commercial for that Milton Bradley (now Hasbro) game called Life (or The Game of Life)? I’m talking about the one where the woman comes to a fork on the game board and says, “Decisions, decisions. Oh, Pay Day! Lawyer’s salary!”
Maybe it’s an obscure reference, yet the point is the same. We all have difficulty making choices. And actually, that woman had it right…the way she was doing it was a decision, not a choice. More on that in the next blog.
I’m sure you’ve been in situations where you think you have to make a choice. Usually it’s an either/or situation, and sometimes there are more than just two things to choose from. Simply put:
What kind of car do I want to buy? Either this, or that…
What color car do I want? Either this, or that…
The example may not ring true for you, so put your own choice in for the car/color. The point is that we start to get wrapped up in our possible choices. And, what’s worse is we don’t want to make the wrong decision. If I pick black and don’t like black, then I have to drive a black car for 3-5 years!
We make our possible choices mean something, and that gives them power over us. And there are all levels of choices. Ever sit down to a dinner with friends and get asked what piece of chicken you want? If you like legs, there are only two, so what if everyone else likes legs? And so on.
Man, you should have seen me the last time I wanted to buy a computer! It took me weeks. No computer seemed to have the right combination of what I thought I wanted/needed and the right price. Talk about analysis paralysis!
So, I had the choice of buying a computer, or the choice of not buying a computer. What I wasn’t paying attention to was that third choice; the choice of not doing anything (and usually bitching and moaning about it). Not doing anything is a choice.
You might say, well if you didn’t do anything, that’s the same thing as not buying the computer, so the choice is the same. Not so. If I actively chose not to buy a computer, then it would be no big deal. I wouldn’t think about computers, look ’em up online, read the electronics store Sunday paper circulars, ask people about computers, etc. That’s a hell of a lot of energy spent NOT doing something, isn’t it?
That’s the biggest problem, we don’t realize the effect that third choice has on ourselves and others.
My son Cameron is 11. Long story short, for most of Cam’s life he lived 90-95% with his mom about 45 minutes away from me. Last year, his mom moved to a town 10 minutes away from me, and Cam was in my house more than 50% of the time. We split the week, and he went to a school in my town which was literally 3 minutes walking distance from my house, so he’d come home after school even on the days he was with his mom until she picked him up. On March 1st, Cam’s mom moved back to where she lived due to a job situation. Cam spent from March until the end of June 90-95% of the time in my house.
On or about March 1st, it became apparent that Cam was going to be moving back with his mom for the next school year, if she had her say so. I told Cam I loved him, and wanted him with me, yet I wouldn’t be upset if he chose to move back with his mother. Cam kept saying he hadn’t made his choice.
What a terrible situation for an 11 year old to be in, right? He clearly felt damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. The problem was that his not willing to make a choice meant he chose to live with his mom by default. But the months of March to June were terribly stressing, on him and me. He was too young to see it, and again, what a horrible situation to be in…yet, the results were the same. He is now back with his mom, yet for four months he was tormented by the thought of upsetting one of us with his choice.
So, there are three choices: choose to do something, choose not to do something, or don’t make a choice…which is actually a choice, just with crappy consequences, and usually the same result as if you chose not to do something.
The key is that you can always choose something else after your first choice. Okay, in many of the examples they will cost you money. However, you still can choose again.
The top executives in the world will all tell you that quick decision making is the way to run a business. You can correct mistakes, choose something else and fix problems along the way. Taking too much time to decide is a sign of weakness, which doesn’t work for large corporations.
The problem is the little voice in our head comes up with all sorts of permanent problems with any of the choices we make. If I buy the cheaper computer, then I’m going to be unhappy and have to pay extra for upgrades anyway. If i buy the bigger computer, I’m going to spend too much for something I won’t be using and it’ll be obsolete next week anyway. I’m stuck!
For whatever reason, we never see beyond the choice that’s right in front of us. I think the Oracle said that in the movie The Matrix, or one of the sequels. We see ourselves making the choice and then living as if that’s the only way we can be.
I have many real estate coaching clients that write out their goals and business plan at the beginning of the year (God bless them!), and then they function as if they were written in stone. Hello??? You wrote it, you can change it!
Just keep making choices.