Whenever there is anything I am considering — be it dropping all that I do right now, and taking a leave of absence from work, so I can go scuba-diving; or maybe finally buying that new professional full-frame camera that I have been contemplating forever and a day; or, as a more dramatic example, abandoning my family in favor of life as a monk on some Godforsaken mountain, how would my decision about such matters be different, if I was told in no uncertain terms that it is truly now or never?
Now or never. Books were written about this topic (One Month to Live and the likes,) songs composed, TED talks presented, you name it. Ignoring the hype, which is what I usually tend to do, it is still a matter worth some serious consideration. I occasionally ask myself this seemingly trivial question regarding everyday decisions, large and small. On the surface, it may appear like a no-brainer query. After all, we have been brainwashed that one must follow his/her passion; go where the heart goes, and all that. But beyond the novelty of the idea, what does this really entail? After all, in practicality, for most of us who have others in our lives to take into consideration, it is not that simple. Does not showing up for work tomorrow, in favor of a surprise trip to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, really worth taking the chance of having no job when I return? Especially if it is a job I mostly enjoy? Would draining my minuscule savings in order to buy something (e.g. a professional camera) that my regular salary will not permit, a good move? Would abandoning my wife and kids be justified in favor of a promised path to enlightenment?
The truth of the matter is that most decisions we need to make in our everyday lives are not of the now or never type. Thus, making choices by that rule alone may be misguided. Yet, it is also a known fact that most of us procrastinate. We are actually quite good at that. Boy, if they would have only paid us by how well we procrastinate, we would not have to work another day in our lives… But I am digressing (pan at self intended.)
Thus lays the dilemma. More often than not, without a now or never “threat,” decisions, including important ones, may be repeatedly pushed to “after the holidays”, which goes to say if not by Christmas, then definitely by Passover…
Do not despair; I have a solution. The way I have been handling this for my own sake, with a decent rate of success, is to consider the following factors: 1. Does the decision at hand has a deadline set in stone? 2. What prevents me from making it today? 3. On a scale of 0 to 10, how bad do I really want it?
To better illustrate the decision-making process, I will use one of the above examples: a scuba-diving trip. 1. There is no concrete deadline 2. Barriers include financial constrains, but even more so, a super-packed schedule, at least until early April. 3. I want it quite bad, probably a 7-8 on the 0-10 give-it-to-me-now scale, but I can wait another 3-4 months. Conclusion: a dive trip for me right now is not a now or never decision. If I was told I only have a month to live, my considerations might have been different; but, alas, that is not the case. Given all these factors, I am going to postpone such a trip until the spring. Still, so this endeavor does not become an “after the holidays” sort of item, the latest date I will set to go diving is the end of June. That means that I will revisit the decision in 2 months’ time, and when I do, this more concrete deadline will be looming. It shall force me to make time for the trip, even if my schedule would require turning to God, requesting that an eighth day is added to the weekly calendar.
As to the other examples mentioned – I already decided that yes, the camera is important enough for me. Thus I purchased it back in December, timing it for when Nikon had a special deal for the holidays. And regarding leaving my family in favor of a monk’s life? That was just for the sake of a more intense example, but if you insist, cool as enlightenment is (speaking from experience here,) I am not yet quite ready for celibacy…
Learned from: Contemplating a dive trip against my super tight schedule.