Staring at decisions

Soap is 85 cents a bar or two for a dollar. Which should you buy?

It depends. It depends on how much space you have, whether you like this brand, how full your cart is and whether or not you’re sure if the person who sent you to the market wants you to buy two.

It’s easy to focus on these sorts of low-value decisions.

There are organizations that spend far more time discussing a new logo than analyzing where to place the new office. One is filled with emotion and no economic importance, the other is fuzzy, complicated and incredibly expensive.

Perhaps you’ve seen someone spend emotion and focus figuring out a tip to the penny, but impulsively use credit card debt to go on a fancy vacation.

Marketers have pushed us to spend as little time as possible thinking about things like long-term debt, the implications of going to a famous college or the lifetime emissions of buying a certain kind of car or house. But we end up spending countless cycles on the trivial choices that make us feel like we have control over the world around us.

We may believe that if one takes care of the little things, the big ones won’t matter. Or the opposite.

It turns out that staring at an uncomfortable big decision might pay for a thousand of the little ones.