The High Cost of Doing Nothing

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Cost is sometimes a difficult term to define. Here, we are not simply discussing cost as it relates to selling price, but rather opportunity cost. The web site, "Mentors, Ventures and Plans" defines opportunity cost as "The loss of the next best alternative whenever a decision is made involving two or more options". "Investing in Options" defines it as "Choosing the best alternative means that you can't choose the next-best alternative. Opportunity cost is the next-best alternative that must be sacrificed in order to get something else you want. Opportunity cost can be thought of as the road not taken." Inactivity, or doing nothing, is usually the highest price paid and is often associated with great opportunity cost. Inaction is usually the worst decision one can make, made from a base of fear.

Many of us will freeze when facing decisions. For some reason, decision making becomes complex, paralyzing and even painful for many people. It should not be this way. Making a decision is simply the act of choosing between alternatives. You must learn to weigh the implications of each possible decision and choose the outcome that is best for you and all others involved. For example, when your telephone bill comes due, you may choose to pay it or not. There are real obvious consequences for both actions. The situation becomes more complex however, when our human emotions enter the picture. For instance; you are offered a new job and must decide to leave your current position and move your family to a new location, hundreds of miles away.

What we often fail to realize, is that delaying important decisions or simply not making a decision at all, are actions that often impact us with the highest opportunity costs and worst case scenarios. Inactivity, or the lack of a decision, is actually a decision made, although one seldom made in our best interests. In this case, we unfortunately transfer over control of our lives to external forces and circumstances. We are now positioned to be at the mercy and decision-making of others. This is not your best scenario. There are often unusually high costs associated with doing nothing.

Decision making is actually a skill set that can be learned and refined. Like all skills, entering into a new area as a novice requires practice and application in order to see improvement. Keep in mind that you will indeed improve! Start small, with less important decisions involving less than crucial outcomes and gradually make more decisions on matters of greater importance. Soon, you will have few if any issues with making decisions. Learn to start small and work your way up, gradually extending your comfort zone in this area. A by-product of learning these new skills is that your confidence will surely improve as well.

Decision making need not be frightening. Think of it as a process that is your own, shedding any external pressure that others may be applying. Take your time, get your facts and choose the outcome that works best for you. Do not allow yourself to fall victim to the high cost of doing nothing.