Decisions come with many implications, and no matter how smart you are there will be decisions that create problems for you. Making decisions is one thing, but delaying them? That can come with huge opportunity costs and create major distractions. That might be common sense, but people delay decisions all the time because they’re afraid of the unknown, they don’t want to put the energy into changing after the decision is made, or they just don’t want to disrupt their comfortable routine.
Let’s consider the opportunity cost of delaying a decision.
Imagine you’re given the option to buy 1000 shares of Apple stock when it made its Initial Public Offering (IPO). The price per share was $22, but c’mon, who’s going to buy a personal computer anyway? I’ll pass.
The stock market opens and in a mere 6.5 hours the share price hits $29… On 1000 shares that’s a $7,000 opportunity cost. You missed $1,076.92 per hour on the first day. I wonder what happened the next day?
If you had invested $990 right after Apple’s IPO and done nothing else, by August 2015 your investment would’ve been worth $313,740 (and that’s excluding dividend payouts).
Delayed Decisions Will Distract You
I bet there are people out there right now who are still kicking themselves for not investing in Apple, and it’s been 37 years.
On a smaller scale, there are everyday decisions that cause strife when they don’t need to. Have you ever found yourself stressed when trying to decide what’s for dinner? Maybe you’re trying to decide what show to watch on Netflix? Maybe it’s a decision about what to do with the weekend?
When we don’t have plans for the weekend, it’s best when we decide to do nothing. That way we don’t feel like we let the weekend slip away when it’s over; it feels more like we spent it relaxing and being lazy on purpose. It’s a subtle difference in perspective, but it certainly takes a weight off of your shoulders.
So Why Do We Delay?
We delay making decisions because we know we’ll have to put some energy into following through. If you decide to start a fitness regimen, that means you actually have to start exercising versus just talking about it. There’s work involved.
We delay making decisions because we’re afraid of what might come of it. What if our assumptions were wrong? What if it causes our project to go in the wrong direction? What if the movie we picked sucks? What if our client doesn’t like the color we decided on? What if there’s a better choice out there that we just haven’t found yet?
We delay making decisions because we know things will have to change going forward. Maybe our routines are altered. Maybe we have to change our habits. Maybe we have to change the people we spend time with at work or at home. Maybe the way we drive to work or church is different.
Decisions matter, but making them in a timely fashion matters even more. Don’t miss the opportunity because you dithered about. Don’t distract yourself by having loose ends hanging in your mind.
It’s better to have decided and learned from the outcome than to have wondered what might be. Life is better when you decide.