CAN DECISION-MAKING BE AS SIMPLE AS THIS?
Hey! I love those blue jeans on you. They really accentuate your ass.
So last week in my check-in, I snapped my fingers in a “zed” formation at RBC for their blanket policies regarding how they approach customer service. I had been denied a Line of Credit, and I was frustrated. I consider myself a trustworthy and sound-of-mind individual, and if I can’t obtain a loan, then how are folks like myself supposed to tackle their dreams? I have yet to receive a response from the RBC. Disappointing.
This week I was thinking a lot about tradeoffs, or in other words, the idea of mutually exclusivity. Often life presents us with decisions, and many of these decisions will automatically negate other choices. Essentially, if I choose “A” then I can’t have “B.”
Allow me to extrapolate.
CAN’T WE HAVE IT ALL?
Perhaps I’ll begin with a counter-example; some choices in life are NOT mutually exclusive. Should I decide to do my banking with a different financial institution, it does not mean that I need to close my current account. This is a non-mutually exclusive choice. I can have as many bank accounts as I want. (Having money to these bank accounts, of course, is another issue.)
However, there are plenty of moments in our lives where we must prioritize or “rank” one choice over another. Here are some examples off the top of my head:
- If I have $100 to spend on a new pair shoes, buying the $89 Keds means I can’t also buy the $59 Converse sneakers.
- If I choose to live permanently in Montreal, then I can’t live fulltime in San Francisco.
- If I enter a monogamous relationship, the assumption is that I won’t be shagging other people.
- If I work want to be a stay-at-home Dad, then I won’t be able to go to the office every day.
In other words, many of our decisions automatically disqualify other choices.
This week I sold my scooter and bought a camera. And although it is quite possible to own a scooter AND a camera (living large!), it is the lifestyle that I create in relation to these objects that is mutually exclusive.
Selling my scooter was a strongly symbolic move towards the accomplishment of a major goal – travel. If you’ve tuned into my ramblings in the past, you’ll know that I’ve often referenced my little 50cc Honda Dio. It has, in many ways, been a symbol of the fun, urban, dynamic existence that I have in Montreal. Held together with duct tape and zipping me off to movie premieres and interviews and social gatherings, Rhonda (my scooter) has not only been a mode of transport, but she’s been an expression of the lifestyle of a young, single, urban man.
Instead of a scooter, I now have a new D-SLR camera. And this camera has already become a new allegory for me. It will be a lens that I will glance through, and hopefully see the world. It will be the brush I use to paint a story. It will be a porthole to bring you, my faithful reader, on a journey of discovery and questioning and humor. The camera will definitely be a metaphor of the impending adventure that I shall be embarking upon.
I am swapping one mutual exclusive reality for another – a lifestyle tradeoff, one might say. Sacrificed will be the comfort of my urban life, complete with the sanctity of my apartment, the support of friends and the familiarity of my neighborhood. Gained will be the challenge and romance of the road, which promises the expansion of thought processes, the introduction to unknown people(s) and the opportunity to witness first-hand the streets and countryside’s of other lands.
I have constructed this to be an “either-or” choice. If I choose “A” (travel), I can’t have “B” (urban comfort). And that’s okay with me.
In going through these transitions or “tradeoffs,” I’ve come to a couple minor realizations. Firstly, as much as decision might seem “final” or to negate another option, in many cases we don’t actually have to be fatalistic about our choices. The choice to sell my scooter doesn’t mean I’ll never own another scooter. Choosing to travel at the moment doesn’t mean that I won’t have a lovely little apartment again in the future. Ultimately, I don’t have to force myself into permanent dichotomies. This will be my new reality, but it won’t be forever.
Secondly, it is helpful for me to “own” my choices. Sure I felt a pang of sadness as I left my scooter, and I believe in granting myself a bit of space for sentimentality or wistfulness. But there is also a surge of excitement when I pick up my new camera and think about the creative possibilities that will inevitably present themselves. And I believe that a greater sense of contentedness will be found if I steer my emotions toward the positive aspects of what I have gained rather than what I have lost.
Can decision-making be as simple as this?