Decisions and Timing

When you make a decision is often as important as the decision that you make.

Canada recently won the world junior hockey championship and I watched an exciting final game against Russia.  High skill, high tempo, emotional.

I was particular impressed with Max Domi, not especially for being brave and feisty, which he is, or even for scoring goals which he can do, but for his play-making skills.  Many people can learn to pass, but just a few learn to pass at just the right time.  A little too early or late, even half a second off will often fail.

Timing is crucial.

So too with other decisions.  People faced with important, or expensive, or life altering decisions can reach the right answer but not always at the right time.  Over-analysis and conclusion jumping have about equally weak results.

There is a simplifying question to ask to avoid both.  How difficult or expensive would it be to reverse the decision if I made it now and it turns out wrong?

If it would be easy to reverse then there is little point in over-analyzing it.  Should we have coffee mugs or coffee cups in the board room?  Seven milliseconds of thought required.

My spouse has died, should I sell the house?  Nearly impossible to reverse, so a little time to think and feel about it is in order.

Should I have a child?  Also unlikely to be reversible.  Be sure.  Second and following children are less crucial since your life has already changed irrevocably.  The decision is less risky.

The rule is that a reversible decision has little risk regardless of its size, frequency, difficulty or other conditions.

Most decisions are better made as soon as possible.  Be sure you know what as soon as possible is for each.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. Contact: 

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