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There Is No Right Decision

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I sometimes get bogged down on major purchases, for months even. If I don’t find a printer or pair of runners that feels like the right one (for me at least) I usually retreat to go gather more information.

I look up more reviews. I ask the advice of friends who seem less tormented by the prospect of shoe or printer shopping. Mostly I just let time pass.

A couple of years ago, after a month of needing but not buying a printer, I tweeted something like, “So I’m looking to buy a printer, but don’t know where to start… any advice?”

Moments later, my good friend Nate responded, with something like, “Here’s how to buy a printer: you go to the store and get a printer.”

I did that, and I have to admit his strategy worked at least as well as my usual three months of contemplation. I chose one of the printers they had. It prints.

So I did end up getting the right printer, but at the time I felt like I just got lucky. I didn’t know it was the right choice, I just went ahead with something. It was a measured risk that happened to work out.

Much of the stress and difficulty of life comes down to making decisions, big and small, and they never stop coming. What’s the right call? Fix the old car or spring for a new one? Stay with your job or quit and go freelance? Cut your hair short or rearrange what you’ve got? And how confident do you need to be before choosing?

It sure feels good to get it right. We’ve all had the sense that we picked the right hotel room, or the right career path, or the right movie for this particular date.

We also know the unmistakable feeling that the wrong choice has been made: law school was a mistake; the “hip and cozy” Airbnb turned out to be a closet overlooking a perpetual traffic jam; the Seahawks passed when they should have run.

Whether a decision was the right one or not, life goes on. If it was the right one, great. If it was the wrong one, at least you learned a few more red flags.

Recently I was exposed to a brilliant idea: there are no right decisions.

There’s no right call, and there never has been. All the time we’ve burned and heartache we’ve suffered trying to figure out the right reponse, the right outfit, the right bathroom tile, the right movie—it was all a wild goose chase. 

We do make choices, and they do have consequences. But the idea that there’s a “correct” one is only ever a story we tell ourselves.

Choices can be well reasoned or poorly reasoned. Their results can be surprisingly beneficial or surprisingly damaging. But there’s no such thing as a categorically right course of action, just an array of possible ones—and for each, a sprawling, endless web of consequences.

Let’s say you choose what you believe is the right name for your new product. On a different day, in a different mood, you could have chosen a different name, also believing it was the right one. Whichever name you chose, perhaps eighteen months later, when you’re struggling with sales, you might decide that your choice was actually the wrong one. A year after that, when you’ve sorted out that problem, you believe again that your choice of name was the right one—you just chose the wrong advertising company.

It’s only ever a story. There may be generally better and generally worse choices, but there’s no right choice.

Yet we still approach many of our dilemmas as though there is, somewhere out there, a right course of action, and we desperately need to identify it. Perhaps we’ll only find out what it is the hard way, but the right choice will reveal itself one way or another.

But it never really does. Even after the fact, when we’re living with the consequences, we don’t know what the right choice was. All we know is whether we like where we are or don’t like where we are.

Of course, you can attribute where you are to virtually any of the decisions you’ve ever made—choosing product name A over B, dumping your high school sweetheart, moving to the coast, hanging with potheads instead of preppies, not getting up early enough these last few years. Which ones were right or wrong exactly? It’s a meaningless pronouncement, except perhaps to use later as rhetoric, in blaming ourselves or someone else.

This might seem like a semantic distinction. Okay, there’s no “right” choice, but obviously there are still better and worse ones.

But it matters. There’s a big difference between trying to make wise, well-informed choices, and trying to make the right choices.

Firstly, it means that gathering more information will never reveal the right choice. More information might be helpful, but there’s no such thing as enough—at some point, a leap is required, and afterward, you still won’t know what was best. I could have researched printers for a decade. If I got a dud, I still would have thought of it as the “wrong” choice.

Secondly, the idea of a right choice implies that the consequences of our choices are somehow cleanly connected, and isolated from everything else. You choose option A, and get consequence X.

But choices and consequences aren’t paired off one-to-one, like doors in a game show bonus round, each hiding either a prize or a punishment. Every action sets off endlessly rippling consequences, a cascade of effects that are often both beneficial and detrimental, both short-term and long-term, both intended and unintended, both known and unknown.

Your choice to work from home leads to freed-up commuting time (decidedly good), more family time (good), but also more tension with your partner (bad), and a harder time getting enough exercise (bad) and who knows what else. Each of these effects influences other parts of your life, in ways seen and unseen, forever.

Yet we tend to think we can look at a single dilemma in isolation, identify the right response, and execute it, as though we’re lining up a shot on a billiard table.

Giving up on the idea of right decisions doesn’t mean giving up on using our best judgment. But it’s a tremendous relief to recognize that getting it right, in any meaningful sense, is an impossible goal.

Here’s how I think it really works: You’ll make a million decisions, and each will shape your life and other people’s lives in ways you’ll barely know. You will have surprising successes and surprising failures. You’ll give yourself too much credit for both. Then you’ll die.

Much more important than any decision, or its consequences, is the motivation behind the sorts of decisions you tend to make. Principles, applied over the years, have consistent, traceable trajectories.

You may or may not make your choices with good intentions. You may or may not learn from your choices. You may or may not get lucky. But you will never get things right. So let yourself off the hook.

***

Photo by Christian Stahl
B July 15, 2018 at 9:56 pm

I used to over-analyze every purchase too. Now, I spend that time over-analyzing whether I should make *any* purchase at all. It saves a ton of money.

If I decide that I do need another *Thing*, I just go to The Wirecutter and if their writeup and reasons for recommending align with my needs, I buy one of the things they recommend. It’s only sometimes what I would have bought for myself, but it’s always “right” enough, and I’ve just saved myself several hours of research.

Following that logic, here is how I suggest someone buy a printer:
1. Keep track of how often you print things for three months.
2. Remember that the home printer industry is a terrible, no good, very bad industry.
3. Walk over to a library once a month when you need to print something.

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 9:39 am

Totally — that’s the first question. Do I even need to do anything at all here? In the case of the printer I definitely did need one though, haha.

Abhijeet Kumar July 15, 2018 at 10:24 pm

There is no right decision, but there is a sweet spot. But totally agree, over obsessing with making a perfect decision is suffering put on ourselves.

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 9:41 am

I think sometimes there is an optimal decision, when there are metrics at play. But again, we seldom ever find out if we hit it, and I feel like it’s a lot more valuable to try to make a good decision than the best one. Even if you do make the optimal choice, if it takes extra time or causes extra trouble, the gains might be overshadowed by the costs.

Abhijeet Kumar July 16, 2018 at 5:36 pm

True. I have found being honest in a moment helps bring clarity. It means accepting I don’t know anything at all — this true from that perspective, that is true from this perspective, but what after that. This isn’t just humbling, it brings clarity.

Naomi July 16, 2018 at 2:28 am

So true, David. And so timely. We’ve been trying to move house for almost 18 months (2 houses fallen through and 2 buyers for our house) and even before we started looking, the ‘other’ option was to spend a ton of money on our current house (which we thought was the wrong decision) but now that we’ve wasted a couple of thousand pounds on solicitors, surveys, searches etc and are in exactly the same boat as when we started 2017, it feels like we made the wrong choice (and should’ve just gone for home improvements instead) but the thing is you’re right: We MIGHT have found the right house, but we didn’t. There’s so much luck involved in these things you drive yourself mad TRYING to make the RIGHT decision when all you can do is live and learn.

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 9:43 am

Isn’t it interesting how the idea of the right choice changes when you learn more, or think more about it? It’s just a view. Quite often I’m bent on doing things a certain way, and when it occurs to me that I can do it a different way, I ask myself “Why did I think I had to do it that way?” — and I don’t know. I just started with that impression and forgot it was just an impression.

Calen July 16, 2018 at 2:32 am

Loved this post. Genuinely. So much if what you write hits me right where I live. Anyhow, I had a thought on how to implement this.

I’m a graduate student and I deal with this every time I sit down to write. It seems to me like writers block it’s, at root, just the endless questing for a combination of words that feels “right.”

Up until recently, such perfectionism dominated my life as a student. It still does, in some ways. But when I’m writing, now, and I hit a spot where I find myself struggling to write the perfect sentence, I to stop, breathe, and then just write a bad one instead. And highlight it for later.

That’s actually a very useful trick, when you’re dealing with decisions that are reversable but that tend to magnify themselves in your brain. Words. Shoes. Who to ask out for coffee this Thursday. If you find yourself obsessing over “right” or it’s evil twin, “good enough,” and you can see that it’s paralyzing you, then you can fight back by deliberately doing something that is incorrect or sub-par. You can always go back later (if it’s a reversible decision). You might wind up thinking the result is okay. And over time, you might learn to loosen up because you realize the world will forgive you for your imperfect choices.

It’s like stretching. Trying simply to “let go of getting it right” is like dealing with a tense muscle by just trying to relax it. I don’t really have a switch in my brain that just allows me to “un-clench” a tight hamstring, or relax my hips on demand. But I can fight back against the chronic contractions by deliberately stretching them in a way they don’t currently want to go, even if it hurts a bit to do so. And over time, I find I’m more flexible as a result.

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 9:45 am

Oh man I hear you here. Writing is actually a good teacher in this regard, because nothing is ever finished. You always have the sense that it’s not quite right, that you haven’t quite nailed it, and that’s probably true. But you have to publish it, or else you never move on to the next piece.

Lorelle July 16, 2018 at 3:43 am

You send these just when I need them. Thankyou! I’m currently trying to deal with a serious medical issue with my dog, who is not only my best pal, but my preferable pal to all others both animal and human. In the last few days I kept thinking ‘if only I knew who to ask for the right answer as to what to do’. Whilst I’m trying to get as much info as I can about his condition and what options would be available, in the end it is me that has to make the decision and live with it, and now I feel a lot better about that. I’ll do the best I can, but there probably is no right decision. Each option will have up sides and down sides and I can only do the best I can do for him. I’m not an all-seeing God, much as I may sometimes with to be in order to find ‘the right answer’.
Thankyou once again. I’ll probably sleep a little better tonight.

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 9:51 am

That is such a tough one. I hope the perspective in this post is helpful. Best wishes to you.

Pebbles July 16, 2018 at 4:21 am

Lovely post. Thank you David.

I think this sort of dawned on me some time back, and I stopped analysing “why” everything. If it is something I truly want and’or need and I have the resources for it, then I go for it. I have random purchases which I now realise are probably not for me and end up being gifted to others. I work much more with the gift culture and am downsizing everything in my life. It makes some much more of everything, of life, of happiness, of relationships and of understanding others issues.

I spend more time in quiet contemplation and as a result, I am better in company and in the wider environment. It’s only taken me 63 years to arrive here, but I know that the remainder of my time on the planet will be joyful and creative.

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 9:55 am

I am starting to think like that too, after all this time. It’s simple if you don’t try to figure out everything’s exact value and the possibilities. We never get that calculation part right anyway.

Linda July 16, 2018 at 4:30 am

Excellent thinking. I tended to obsess over getting it right all the time which was often paralyzing and led only to procrastination and self-doubt. I’m now shifting in the direction of ‘Just Do It’ (once I’ve done the necessary research and basic thinking of course!) You also have to let go of ‘what if’ thinking and just live with ‘what is’ once you’ve made the choice or decision.
This also made me think about what ‘life’ is about for anyone. Is it what I do, what i feel, what I experience, what I own, who I love? What do I mean when I try to ‘live my life’?
:-D

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 9:59 am

Right… “what if” is a trap. We simply do not have access to counterfactual realities. We just know where we are. When we imagine the “other path” we make it out to be better in all the right ways if we want to blame ourselves, and worse in all the right ways if we want to flatter ourselves. It’s just stories and we have absolutely no knowledge of what would have happened.

DiscoveredJoys July 16, 2018 at 4:47 am

“Here’s how I think it really works: You’ll make a million decisions, and each will shape your life and other people’s lives in ways you’ll barely know.”

Actually I suspect there is another force at work here too. A great deal of how we behave (and the decisions we make) is affected by the attitudes we think our (various) Social Network(s) hold. So deciding on ‘the best’ printer is trivial… except you don’t want to appear technically clueless to your digital equipment social network buddies.

Similarly choosing/dumping a significant other, smoking/giving up, having/not having children, moving/not moving house are all played out against a background of how you expect how other people in your social networks will think of you. Social rejection *hurts*. And you may not even be aware of the influence your social networks have on your decisions.

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 10:03 am

Oh totally… in fact social pressures and our worries about self-image might be the greatest factor in our decisionmaking. We definitely don’t do everything for the reasons we think we do!

Judith July 16, 2018 at 5:41 am

Hi David – another great post! I wholly agree with the approach. I believe there are a few decisions that warrant thought and research (I mean major things like a relocation, planning a pension or care decisions for an elderly relative) – though in the end you still have to make the call so you have to have a cut-off point. But most day-to-day decisions simply don’t need too much attention, so you’re better off just making a call with the best of your present knowledge and moving on. If you get a less-than-perfect printer, does it really matter? This way you save a lot of the most precious resources (1) your time (which you won’t get back) and (2) your peace of mind (so you can focus on the really important things).
A ‘wrong’ call is a done deal – you can only try to learn from it for the future and move on – so don’t obsess about it, and don’t blame anyone for it, especially yourself, so long as you made your decision in good faith. And every time you use that less-than-perfect printer you have an opportunity to practice remembering all these things! And maybe the perfect printer is a figment of our imagination anyway, and isn’t really out there . . .

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 10:05 am

Agreed, and I guess going ahead with decisions anyway is a matter of practice. I’m at the point where I can see that decisions need to be arbitrary on some level, and there’s a benefit for being expedient with them, but there is still fear present. I’m excited about practicing this consciously. In any case I am learning to distrust that “I need to withdraw for more info-gathering” impulse… it’s usually just fear.

Jeff S July 16, 2018 at 6:43 am

Have you been listening to Alan Watts? :) Love this post. We view ourselves as so important and so in control that we worry about consequences way too much.

It reminds me of Watts’ quote, where he says something along the lines of: “You can never account for all the variables when making a decision. And even if it’s the ‘wrong’ decision, it all comes out in the wash anyways.”

The Taoist philosophy of “going with the flow,” although commonly misrepresented, is exactly what you are logically breaking down.

Thank you, again, for another insightful post.

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 10:06 am

No I haven’t but that sounds really interesting. We only see a fraction of the variables, and we aren’t exactly good at calculating probabilities with the factors we do see.

Tony July 16, 2018 at 6:45 am

I don’t know whether there are right decisions or not but I do believe that no one consciously will make a wrong decision.

Only someone out of their mind, when faced with a decision, would choose the wrong one.

Today, with a lot more data available, one might, when faced with the same choices, select a different one.

However, part of the problem with making decisions, right ones or wrong ones, is having too much choice.

Psychologist Barry Scwartz argues that: “Infinite choice is paralyzing and exhausting to the human psyche. It leads us to set unreasonably high expectations, question our choices before we even make them and blame our failures entirely on ourselves.”

Go to Amazon, type “laptops” into the search block. You will be presented with more than 10,000 results. How do you decide on which product is the one for you? Well, you can filter the results. You might start with price by limiting the amount that you wish or should spend. Next, you can further filter the results by choosing the screen size, the computer processor type, the computer RAM capacity, the computer graphic card type, your preferred operating system, the number of CPU cores (whatever that means), the weight, the hard disk size, the laptop WLAN and you may have a preference on the manufacturer. In this search, there are over 51 top brands to choose from.

Type in cellular phones and you will be presented with over 100,000 choices.

Salad dressing will generate over 10,000 results and here the choices are, fat free, low fat, free of saturated fat, free of trans fat, cholesterol free, sodium free, low sodium, carbohydrate free, sugar free, dietary fiber >10g and protein >10g. You can further reduce your choice by selecting either glutten-free, organic, vegetarian or vegan. There is also a choice of “frustration-free packaging”, whatever that is.

It is no wonder that when faced with so much choice, we may feel dejected and decide not to buy anything.

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 10:08 am

Yes the paradox of choice is a real thing, and it has probably never been a bigger problem than for western consumers. There are just so many choices that we’re almost certain we won’t make the best choice. All the more reason to just go ahead with something, and learn from the consequences rather than try to map out all the consequences beforehand (which isn’t possible anyway).

KD July 16, 2018 at 7:44 am

Extremely useful post, David. Knowing when to ‘gather information’ and when to ‘make the call’ is actually a critical life skill, one without which we can become paralyzed. As with many things in life, balance is where the sweet spot lies. It would be a mistake to decide on important life choices (ie, bigger than printer choice!) without considering key factors but since we simply don’t have that crystal ball that reassures us now of later outcome, at some point you’ve got to leap!

Also, re: “Much more important than any decision, or its consequences, is the motivation behind the sorts of decisions you tend to make. Principles, applied over the years, have consistent, traceable trajectories.”
Yes! More on this please!

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 10:11 am

It’s amazing how we really do mistake our mental images and worries for some sort of crystal ball. We’re just having present-moment thoughts about “the future”, and those thoughts can only be built from *past* experience, yet we often believe we’re somehow seeing how things will go.

Anna July 16, 2018 at 8:29 am

Thanks for your articles, David. They resonate so much with me! Thank you and all the best.

Erika July 16, 2018 at 8:31 am

EXCELLENT article! Thank you :-)

Herm July 16, 2018 at 9:20 am

“Getting it right, in any meaningful sense, is an impossible goal” in that the law of truth technically does not exist in our current human state. The right or truly ”perfect printer is a figment of our imagination . . .”

Ameen July 16, 2018 at 9:24 am

It’s also important to realize that it’s unfair to scrutinize your past decisions with the knowledge that you have now. If you knew then what you know now, you wouldn’t obviously make the decisions that you now regret and that’s assuming that you’ve made a wrong decision to begin with.

I used to constantly reprimand myself over not making different decisions in the past, but something changed in me in recent years where thoughts about what I have should’ve done are almost non-existent.

I think part of the reason why I am this way right now, is that I’m a lot more curious about my experiences in the future than what the past looked like. So if people want to get over the past, my advice is to instead start thinking about what you want to do and see next.

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 10:13 am

Yes, for sure. And it goes the same for blaming others. Especially when it comes to public figures and people we don’t know, we often blame people the outcomes of the same decisions we’d have been praising them for if it turned out well.

Tonya July 16, 2018 at 9:39 am

Ain’t that the truth! I think making the wrong choice is almost better than regret of having never tried something. If you make a “wrong” choice you just course correct. But you’ll never know how something could have turned out if you never tried anything at all!

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 10:17 am

One reality that’s easy to overlook is that doing nothing is a choice too, and we are currently living with the consequences of having done nothing in many, many areas we where once considered doing something.

Steve July 16, 2018 at 9:44 am

Wonderful post David – concise and yet full of usable life details.

“Yet we tend to think we can look at a single dilemma in isolation, identify the right response, and execute it, as though we’re lining up a shot on a billiard table.”

That’s exactly what I do in my life. I’ve been thinking about the the placement of the sink for my kitchen renovation for about 5 months now. 18 inches to the left or not.

There is no exact right place – just get it in there and start doing dishes.

Thanks for helping.

Steve

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 10:17 am

Those dishes must be quite piled up by now!

Judith July 16, 2018 at 11:14 am

Fascinated by the number of choices identified for laptops, salad dressing etc (from Tony) and it’s the same for most anything you might want to buy. In practice though, the real differences between all these products are often tiny, especially once you decide on your price-point. Cars are another good example – how to get so excited about the differences between metal boxes on wheels and their attendant gizmos? Only if we lose sight of the actual purpose I guess, and are fooled by a lot of clever marketing people into thinking these products somehow express us or equate to who we are. I’ve fallen for this many times in the past, I guess, but once you stop and think about it, it all seems crazy. And how many of these whizz/bang add-ons do you actually use? I think my washing machine probably has at least 20 programmes but I don’t know because I only ever use two (and won’t spend time perusing the manual once I get the darn thing to do the basics) – the rest are expensive redundancies that benefit the seller through an increased price, but not much the baffled consumer. Maybe it’s just me?
I had a fascinating experience at work when we had company cars (those were the days) and no matter what someone’s entitlement was they nearly always wanted the car that was just out of reach . . . apologies for straying off point here!

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 4:12 pm

Good point. I suspect marketing has made our decision-making a more anxious process, and not by accident. We are a fear-driven species, and if they can make you fear going with the other guy, they can win the sale.

Whenever I’m booking a rental car, they set the prices up so that there’s always a slightly cooler car for just a few dollars more a day. I know I’ve been suckered into that more than once :/

Sally King July 16, 2018 at 11:20 am

Seahawks reference….spot on!

David Cain July 16, 2018 at 4:21 pm

There’s actually a good case here arguing that passing was the higher-percentage call: https://cacm.acm.org/blogs/blog-cacm/182941-why-the-pass-at-the-end-of-super-bowl-xlix-was-the-right-call/fulltext

But we tend to judge other people’s decisions by their outcome, and our own by our thoughts at the time.

Ron Geraci July 16, 2018 at 11:29 am

Great post, David.
This is the springboard for another great one, I hope, though I’m sure it’s already in the Raptitude archive —

Much more important than any decision, or its consequences, is the motivation behind the sorts of decisions you tend to make. Principles, applied over the years, have consistent, traceable trajectories.

Greg July 16, 2018 at 1:09 pm

I was about to say the same thing, hope to hear more about principles applied over time in decision making.

Andy July 16, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes attributed to St. Augustine I think, “Love and do what you will.”

MJ July 16, 2018 at 1:43 pm

Yes! There is a good amount of scientific data on this, about “maximizers” vs “satisficers” (yes, that is how the word is spelled). I like that your take is a bit more holistic. Great post, as always.

Kathy July 16, 2018 at 2:19 pm

This reminded me of the book The Paradox of Choice that I read a few years ago. We live in a time of nearly unlimited options and this leads to analysis paralysis. Depending on the choice, more research can be a good thing or it can lead to unending anxiety in trying to make the best (or right) decision.

bavar20 July 17, 2018 at 12:09 am

EXCELLENT article! Thank you

Woollyprimate July 17, 2018 at 9:34 am

I haven’t read through all the comments, so someone may have already mentioned this, but you should check out the book :The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz. He talks about maximizers vs. satisficers, and it’s very enlightening.

Marian July 17, 2018 at 2:23 pm

My horse guru tells a story of a trucker who got on the CB radio and said,”I went the wrong way.” Another trucker responded,”There is no right way and wrong way–just the right way and the long way.”
This also reminds me of the zen story of the farmer:
An old farmer had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.

David Cain July 18, 2018 at 9:08 am

The zen farmer is an excellent story, and it encapsulates much of what I’m saying here. No matter what happens, we are always facing an endless and largely unpredictable web of consequences, so it makes sense to keep a measure of agnosticism about whether a particular development is good or bad. It’s almost never clear cut, and even if it seems to be good for the time being, it may prove to be bad in a way later.

anna July 18, 2018 at 12:32 am

Just before we left my grandmas house to return home my dad started eating an orange and starting another conversation. At the time i remember thinking… oh dad… we need to get home. On the way home we missed being hit by the boeing airoplane that came down onto the motorway by an orange and a rambling conversation. When i make a wrong turn i Always say to myself… how do i know that i havent just missed a car crash by going the supposed right way.
loved the article.

Tom July 19, 2018 at 3:31 pm

You’ve just articulated something I struggle with very well. Thank you for shedding some much needed wisdom on the topic. I think I’ll sleep a little better tonight because of it

Bruce July 20, 2018 at 11:40 am

I made a poor printer choice. I admit it. I needed a printer and went to the store. One particular model was deeply discounted. Score! It had all the functionality I wanted. It drew me in.
Very quickly I realized it really didn’t do anything very well. I had to develop workarounds to do even the simplest tasks. On top of that, the toner cartridges were pitifully small and very expensive. After I while I finally brought myself to google the brand and saw some amazon reviews … this device was universally hated.
After a couple of years of dealing with this, it finally defied me for the last time. In a fit of overdue rage, I went Office Space on that thing. I took it outside and threw it up in the air as high as I could on my driveway (my wife cheering me on). It landed with a very satisfying crash. I grabbed a baseball bat and beat what was left of it into oblivion.
It may have started out as a bad decision to buy that thing, but in the end, I think of that day often with great fondness. Bad decision, great memories.

Devo July 21, 2018 at 11:08 am

good thoughts amigo. better or worse are subjective, they’re opinions. right and wrong are also opinions but they imply a moral pressure that stifles freedom of choice. my takeaway on this one is a adjusting perspective for more freedom.
removing the confinement of singular cause/effect thinking surely supports that as well. after all, nothing is ever just one thing.

Martin Laing July 22, 2018 at 10:38 pm

Hi Dave. I read your blog all the time since you mentioned you were writing it when we had our class reunion last year (or whenever it was). I have to say man, I enjoy every article you post and I always look forward to reading the next one!

My personal motto when it comes to making choices is ‘follow your bliss’. I got that phrase from Professor Joseph Campbell (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Campbell).

I will continue to follow my bliss. I have found that in doing so, doors open where you wouldn’t anticipate they would and opportunities to live life to the fullest become seemingly endless.

Peace and happiness to you my friend.

Keep up the amazing work!

Kind regards,

Martin

Enn July 23, 2018 at 10:56 am

I just love your thoughts and writing, I’ve been reading your stuff on and off for two years now. I think you have great taste that suits mine, so can you give me recommendation for other self improvement related blogs or authors which are not listed on your blog roll. Love from London :)

Stubblejumpers Cafe July 23, 2018 at 4:54 pm

1. Sometimes taking a long time to decide is helpful because that’s how I realize I don’t really need that thing I thought I needed.
2. Sometimes taking a long time to decide is an indication that I’m so afraid to make the wrong or not-best choice that it’s keeping me stuck in inaction.

All that said … it’s smart to take your time and shop around … can save you a lot of money sometimes … my husband takes forever — years even, sometimes — but eventually does get good value for his dollar.

-Kate

Lorraine July 24, 2018 at 8:10 am

Why yes! Yes I am an over-analyzer of every decision that I make! Thanks for pointing this out!

However, at the ripe old age of 50+, looking to relocate to a new state after earning an amazing job, I will be purchasing what will more than likely be the “last” home I own. The decisions seem overwhelming. Live on the coast or in the woods? How many bedrooms & bathrooms do we really need? Traditional Cape Cod or something more rustic, or contemporary, or older, or newer, or . . . . Determining which is the “right” home for us seems to be of extreme importance because we don’t want to retire in the “wrong” home.

But looking at the available homes and agonizing over which would be best and trying to pack and work and find a new home, I realized that anywhere my husband and I were together would be the right home. We will choose together and it will just be, well, home, And the right home.

Thanks, David, for all of your insightful articles.

Derek July 25, 2018 at 12:06 pm

My boss gave me some of the best advice about this analysis paralysis- just be 80% sure, then do it.

He said you can waste the rest of your life trying to get that last 20% of confidence in your decisions, and he’s right.

This was related to work, but I’ve really tried to apply that in life outside of work too.

roly July 27, 2018 at 3:51 am

My boss has a saying I quite like – “don’t worry about making the right, decision, just make a decision and then make it right”

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