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“There are no solutions…only tradeoffs” – Thomas Sowell
When I started this blog two years ago, I would never have thought that anything could make me diminish the amount of effort I put into my dream venture. Today’s simple, but important quote is a reminder that sometimes we have to embrace change. We also have to take little breaks from some projects when we choose to prioritize others.
Well, prioritize, or have previously made a commitment to prioritize, I would say.
For example, it turns out that finishing a PhD has forced me to make some really tough tradeoffs. Trading time I would love to dedicate to The Teaching Cove and awesome resources, e-books and digital store launch I have planned…for a challenging 300-page document I sometimes wish I had never started.
On Tradeoffs: How To Make A Choice
It’s so tough to know if we’ve made the right choice, isn’t it? How can we truly know that? Lately, I’ve been thinking maybe the key isn’t making the right choice all the time, but following through on the choices we’ve made until there is a logical, fair, bend in our paths that allow us to change them.
As I was searching for today’s quote, I came across a quote that has a different perspective; maybe we are choosing from too many good choices. It’s from a book I’ve been meaning to read for awhile – Kristen Newman’s (2014) What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding. She says:
“…life is an endless series of choosing between two things you want almost equally. And you have to evaluate and determine which awesome thing you want infinitesimally more, and then give up that other awesome thing you want almost exactly as much. You have to trade awesome for awesome…”
Now, I have to admit that I don’t have an exact context for the quote, since the book is currently on my reading list. I may read it on my way to a yoga retreat today, my trade-off choice of the week 😉 Yes, I decided to take four precious days off and spend them on checking out the town of Alicante and then heading to a health and wellness resort, instead of devoting those 96 hours to my PhD. It’s Easter holiday week here in Barcelona, and well, perhaps I should be writing 10 hours a day, but I’ve chosen to take a health and wellness break.
Whether I regret this tradeoff or not remains to be seen – and I will update you all next week!
(By the way, you can check out the books I’m reading by following me on Goodreads)
3 Ways To Make Tradeoffs
1. Set Your Priorities (And Know Your Why)
Everything I’ve read on tradeoffs this week seems to align with my very first idea on the topic. Priorities! Goal-setting! If you know me, you know that I absolutely love to set goals, find new ways of setting them, find milestones, and achieve everything I possibly can.
Of course, it’s also important to know your why. Knowing my why has helped me focus so much this week. In fact, I’ve even been leaving myself little notes around my apartment reminding me why I’m completing my PhD. You see, it’s a completely reason from why I started it, so sometimes it’s hard to focus.
I thought I wanted to be an academic, but I don’t. It took two and a half years of doing the PhD to decide that, which is far too far along to quit. So, I focus on why my PhD is an amazing project to work on. Why I’m grateful for my PhD. 7 Reasons I’m Finishing My PhD This Summer.
Yes, these are real lists I make! They help 🙂
2. Make A Decision Tree
Before we actually commit to our tradeoffs, making a decision tree can be a great idea. Actually, I first got this idea from a Consumer Behaviour class I took way back as part of my Business degree. The case study was about making a decision for an expensive product, like a car, and came with a whole set of points based criteria.
It was basically a system of developing evaluation criteria and assigning weightings, but I’ve found it so useful to apply to life decisions more important than which product to buy.
3. Stick By Your Decisions
Commitment is so important and yet so difficult. Trust me, I get it. We all feel like we may have made the wrong choices, or may be doing something for the wrong reasons.
Now, when it comes to huge life changes, I understand changing paths. In fact, I did that twice before I turned 30 (and perhaps 3 times before 35, depending on how the next year goes?). Deciding to follow my passions was never too difficult a decision.
However, sometimes we have to keep going on a project we started and be grateful for the opportunity to finish it. That’s the mentality I’m working with for the next 5 months until I hand in my final thesis draft, that it is.
While I was reading through articles for suggestions on how to make tradeoffs, I came across this great one on Oprah’s site with a great final step. One aspect I hadn’t considered is what she calls “post-game analysis”. Taking the time to sit down and think about whether the tradeoff was worth it is a great next step. So, I’ll be updating all of you next week on whether four days at a health retreat was worth the lost writing time.
I believe it’s also about knowing that if you’re defeated, sometimes having courage means trying again. I absolutely love the quote and poster from one of last months’ Motivational Mondays, as it really hits home. It’s okay to not be perfect, to be afraid, but sticking to our priorities and continuing on the next day is what really makes a hero.
What are your tips for making decisions? Can you share a tradeoff story with us in the comments? I’d really love to hear from you and I read and respond to everyone who comments 🙂
Have a lovely and productive week!
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