Monday, 29 October 2018

Groundhog day disrupted.

Business as usual
The proverbial 06:00 am wake-up up to ‘I got you babe..’, breakfast at the diner, looking out for the groundhog’s shadow to forecast the arrival of spring...you know the drill. Everyone likes their little Punxsutawney.
Our brains are super-efficient in following pre-existing pathways. Routes that are fast, familiar and safe, providing confidence and mastery through repetition. We know where they start, how they will progress, and where they will end. How are we to escape the gravity of the predictable path while everything is conspiring to keep us in the beloved ‘comfort zone’ of warm predictability and soothing control. Giving it all a degree of validity, it doesn’t necessarily merit.

For us, 2018 has been a year of change, for the young and the old. Old dogs are learning new tricks, the young ones are fearfully following. It’s been analysis paralysis for an agonizing few months, wrecked with sleepless nights. The usual pressure that comes with decision making. Will it be the right decision? The truth is, there is no knowing. The only wrong thing to do, is not doing.

Acts of omission
We will all suffer one of two things: the pain of indiscipline or the pain of regret or disappointment. Improving yourself, your relationships, writing a book, building a business - Achieving goals is just bloody painful. It takes a lot of discipline, time, blood, sweat, tears and immense sacrifice to accomplish things that are worthwhile in life.
The regret of inaction is just as painful. Paths not taken will come to haunt us. Not going in for that kiss only to watch her marry someone else. Not striding across the room and leaving when you could, not clicking send on the mail, not signing on the dotted line. Endless evaluation takes 3 seconds of courage to execute – 3 seconds of dizzying bravery to change your life. If it fails, even at 80 when you look back, you will still be proud that you tried. There is a 100% chance of regret if you never try and a 0% if you try and fail. As Jeff Bezos says, that’s a useful metric for any important life decision.

‘Spot the difference’
Everything seems stupid when it fails, in hindsight anyone can look at mistakes and say it was imminent. A good decision is when the outcome is successful – which broadly means, having more than before. Conversely, the biggest fear is ending up with the opposite – less than before. When in comparison mode, quantitative differences - those involving numbers, always win. Earning $80K is better than $60K a year. A 150 sqm home is better than a 120 sqm. The brain equates better to happier, more satisfied, fulfilled lives. A constant battle rages between the brain and the heart, to pursue safe decisions that are conducive to more numbers. Omitting all else. And then comes the living out of those decisions, going from comparison mode to experience mode. How has the $20K changed you, how has the additional room in your house transformed you? And how long till that happiness adjusts back to the new stable and starts to fade?
Focusing too much on inconsequential stuff gets us into trouble. So rather than playing 'spot the difference' of two options side by side, what if we reviewed our own cyclical patterns that repeat in our lives to optimise the things we can’t get used to. 

What if we are bold enough to hop-off the predictive path and take the risk. What if we found a new tune to wake up to. Would it work out, would it fail? Who knows. Like Phil Connors (played by the famous Bill Murray in Groundhog day), you might just learn the piano and ice sculpting along the way.