Don’t wait for the perfect situation to make a decision. Oftentimes, you don’t need more information, you need to trust the Lord and then act based on the information you have.
The amount of choice you and I have in the modern world can be paralyzing. You go to a store to buy paint and you are greeted by 100 shades of every color you could want. Or maybe you search for a job online and find dozens of openings in locations throughout the world. Decision making becomes difficult when faced with an abundance of options. And just when you are about to make a decision, the question creeps into your mind “Why don’t you wait for a perfect situation or option? Surely it is out there somewhere!”
I recently began reading through a book called “Think for Yourself: Restoring Common Sense in an Age of Experts and Artificial Intelligence” by Vikram Mansharamani. The book so far focuses on how the amount of options you and I have each day leads us to trust experts, computer algorithms, and protocols to make decisions for us. “Think for Yourself” has some incredibly insightful points relevant to living in the modern world. Today, I want to look at one of the most impactful quotes in the beginning of the book.
What the Quote Means
More Data, More Problems
This quote contains one of the main propositions of the book: you believe that if you only had enough time and information, you could choose the perfect option. And “Think for Yourself” argues that this belief leads to a constant regret over the decisions you have made and keeps you consistently afraid of missing out on the perfect option.
Vikram points out in his book just how much data you and I have access to. When I say “data”, I mean “information that you can use to make a decision.” For example, let’s say you want to go out for dinner at a restaurant. You are not limited to the restaurants you currently know of. Instead, you can simply look up on your phone all the restaurants around you. Depending on where you are, you might get about 20 restaurants to choose from.
That is what Vikram means when he says you and I have access to an “explosion of data.” With a few clicks, you and I can see every restaurant option within 20 miles of us. At first, you might think this is a perfectly good thing. Isn’t more options better than less options? What I find most profound in the quote above is what Vikram says this amount of choice leads to: the “possibility of an optimal decision.”
What this means is you believe in the back of your mind that you can choose the perfect option if you have enough time and information. In our restaurant example, after seeing all the options, you start searching through them not just find a “good enough” place to eat dinner; you want to search the options to find the perfect, best, ideal restaurant for you at this exact moment in time.
This belief that the perfect decision is out there, just waiting to be discovered leads to two things according to “Think for Yourself.” First, it leads to low-grade regret. You can never be certain that you actually chose the best option out there. When you finally choose a restaurant and go to it, how can you know you chose the right one? And if you are disappointed in any way with your choice, isn’t that a sign that you didn’t find the perfect, ideal restaurant? Thinking this way leads to regretting the decisions you made.
Secondly, the belief you can find the perfect option leads you to have a “fear of missing.” Perhaps you look at the list of restaurants and you narrow it down to five top choices. How do you decide which to go to? Making this final decision can become difficult because you are afraid of choosing wrong. What if you pick the second best restaurant?