Some questions to help you decide whether to buy something:
- How many cups of coffee is this worth? (If it’s less than five cups of coffee, it’s not a very big decision – you should probably go ahead. And don’t spend longer on choosing something worth the cost of a cup of coffee than you would on choosing coffee.)
- How far would you travel to solve this problem immediately? (If the thing in front of you probably solves the problem and costs less than the journey, buy it now, and definitely don’t spend more time on deciding than you would on the journey)
- How far extra will you have to travel to solve this problem another time, and how much will that cost?
- How big a deal is this if it’s the wrong thing?
- How much extra would I pay if I knew for sure it was the right thing?
- What other things could I do with the time I’m using to decide?
Do you need more information, or do you just need to decide?
You might manage two out of three if the cards fall your way, but you can’t have them all.
Freedom … is not the same as individual happiness, nor is it security or peace and progress. It is not the state in which the arts and sciences flourish. It is not good, clean government or the greatest welfare of the greatest number.
This is not to say that freedom is inherently incompatible with all or any of these values, though it may be and sometimes will be. But the essence of freedom lies elsewhere. It is responsible choice. Freedom is not so much a right as a duty. Real freedom is not freedom from something ; that would be license. It is freedom to choose between doing or not doing something, to act one way or another, to hold one belief or the opposite. It is never a release and always a responsibility. It is not “fun” but the heaviest burden laid on man: to decide his own individual conduct as well as the conduct of society and to be responsible for both decisions. Peter Drucker – The Freedom of Industrial Man
You won’t agree with all of the above – I’m still mulling it over – but Drucker’s emphasis on choice and responsibility is spot on.
Most aspects of our lives, both personal and public, are products of choice. This isn’t the same as them being directly under our control (many of the choices belong to others), but we still have choice in how we act: what to accept, what to maintain and what to seek to change.
Look for choices that you’ve been blind to up to now. Which parts of your life – including big, permanent looking things – could do with a review?
Maintenance of the status quo is a choice that we sometimes fail to notice. What are you maintaining as if you have no choice in the matter, when perhaps you should stop? What are you ignoring that you should choose to put more energy into maintaining?
What choices are you in denial about? What have you been choosing to accept that you could – should – choose to change? Small improvements that actually happen are better than giant overhauls that don’t.