Forget the Birds in the Bush

Having too many choices can create misery. Unless you learn to limit your choices, you risk watering down the concrete for the possible. Closing the door on a choice is one of the hardest emotional decisions we encounter as human beings.

We just don’t like to give up our options. This is the reason why home sellers don’t see the money wasting away each month on a mortgage payment, gas and utilities. Why many parents refuse to limit Timmy’s activities, and instead put him in soccer, basketball, baseball, piano lessons, guitar and karate at the same time. This is why corporate executives fail to exercise their stock options while there’s still time left.

Closing the door on choices is hard.

There is no magic antidote for this. Only awareness of the overall problem may help stimulate the thought of closure. Executing this thought is another matter. Closing is hardest when the hour glass of time is almost empty.

I met with a corporate executive who finally set herself free from a thankless, miserable job. She should have been thrilled. But the pending closure of her stock options created huge anxiety. She only had 6 months to decide what to do with more than $200,000 worth of gain.

Does she take the bird in hand, postpone the tax till next year, or give up on future gains while risking the decline in stock value? The right answer is unknown because nobody can predict the outcome of a potential decision. I asked her to focus on a tangible goal for the money. After some reflection, she realized they could pay cash for the renovation of their home. She and her husband had put this work on hold for years.

Giving up on the possible is easier when you focus on what is and where you’re going versus the infinite possibilities of what could be.

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