Deciding Not To Decide
One rule to live by is to never go into a grocery store without a list, because inevitably you will come out with everything except the one item you went in for. On the other hand, you might leave without anything except a bag of peanut M&M's because you forgot that you went in for Muenster cheese.
So many people, when given a choice of more than two, cannot seem to make a decision. So their choice tends to be all or nothing, depending on what their checking account looks like that day.
Sometimes, I would rather be left without a choice than to face a wide array of options. Options require a spreadsheet and usually some type of mathematical equations, neither of which is my forte.
If I were sitting in a dentist chair and he gave me an array of options for good dental health such as implants, dentures, partials, spacers, and fillings, I would be incapacitated for weeks trying to make a decision. Whereas, if he'd said "Mrs. Snyder, you need a root canal," I'd say, "Well, all righty then, let's get this done!" I might not like it. In fact, I would hate it, but the decision doesn't have to be made, so I'd simply do it. That's a third-world mentality, isn't it?
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on whether you are a decision-maker or not, options and choices are the basis of a democratic society. So although the decisions may be difficult to make, we are obliged to make them because, as we've seen, democratic societies are not easily won. We should not squander our choices.
I was reminded of this on an airplane flight last week. My husband and I were on a flight that had a short layover in Las Vegas. We would've liked to have tried our hand at a slot machine or two in the terminal, but we did not have the choice to leave the plane, which we accepted gracefully. If we had had a choice we may have come to blows trying to make that decision.
However, when the majority of the travelers disembarked for other flights, we realized we could choose a different seat.
"The plane will be flying south, so the sun will be shining through the west side of the plane. Let's sit on the other side."
"But the emergency exit on that side doesn't give you the extra leg room."
"Well, how about we sit in the row that has only two seats, so we don't have to worry about a Suma wrestler sitting next to us."
"Those seats don't recline."
"The front row has more space."
"Yeah, but sitting in the back is safer in a crash."
"They start serving drinks from the middle, though."
"I don't care where we sit as long as I have a window seat."
"I need an aisle seat because of my bum leg."
"Well, if you sit on the aisle and I sit by the window, the Suma wrestler will be sitting between us."
By the time the next group of travelers boarded the plane, we had run out of time to choose a new seat and we ended up - you guessed it - right back where we started. This, in essence, is the decision not to make a decision, which is, in fact, a decision as well, though not necessarily a good one. I find that marriage requires these types of decisions a great deal.
This phenomenon also explains why people don't vote. By not voting, they are taking their choice, their option, and giving it to someone else to make for them. These are very trusting, naive people to give such an important personal choice to a body of complete strangers.
If you are the type to opt out on many decisions, the most important decision you must make is the one where you choose the person who is going to be making your decisions for you. before it is too late to choose.
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker.