“I love deadlines. I like that whooshing sound they make as they fly by” said Douglas Adams.
To explain let us go to an apartment in north London on a cold November night in 2002. It’s 2am. I’m with my American friend Dave and we’ve been drinking beers. After nine years he still hasn’t proposed to his hot, intelligent and fun girlfriend, Emma and I’m confused. So I ask him, ‘When are you and Emma going to get engaged?’ Dave thought about it and shook his head. ‘I want to but I can’t’ he replied. ‘Huh?’ I probed.
I thought about it more and realized that I too fall victim to ‘decision bundling’. Let’s take the visiting the dentist. I see myself as a responsible person who brushes and flosses regularly. But I’ll be honest, I don’t actually floss regularly. And going to the dentist means having to acknowledge my lack of flossing and thus, my irresponsible approach to life. So I postpone my dentist appointment until the next month and try to change my decision not to floss. I’m an idiot.
I believe that decision bundling can lead to severe procrastination in one specific instance. When we have to make a decision that forces us to acknowledge that we are not being the person we aspire to be. We may believe that we have integrity. That we are generous. That we are trust-worthy. And yet to call up and cancel on our friend’s invitation would show otherwise. So we do nothing and hope the situation will magically resolve itself.
To make a decision to open a savings account would shows that up to now, we have not been financially responsible. So we do nothing and our personal wealth continues in disarray.
Where do you bundle decisions in your head? How does it hold you back? Is there anything we can do about it?
Thanks to everyone who reposted / tweeted / emailed me about my last post on mistakes that smart people make. It seemed to resonate