BIG small / SMALL big decisions

Upside Down

A friend of mine recently changed jobs. She was not happy in the current role and did not see a way to grow within the company so she switched companies and industry to start a fresh. She was anxious about this big decision, after all she had spent more than 2 years with the company, was it the right role, will it work out, what people will be like a the new place etc.

I tried to help (good samaritan, haha) by explaining that changing jobs is not a big decision at all, so there is nothing to worry at all, the long term risks are minimal. Average career nowadays spans for 40 or so years, so 2 years here or there is nothing. In retrospect, when you will ask your 65 year old self what you think about the job you did when you were 25 until 27 you’ll probably not even remember it. It will not matter, unless it became crucial tipping point in your career or life.

Same goes for re-locating to a different country or city, starting a business or even buying a house, these decisions per se do not have significant long term consequences (unless you buy a house on 100% credit 6 months before property market bust, then you’re fucked). These are what I call BIG small decisions. They look big and scary in the short term but are actually quite small in the long term. I’ve changed jobs and relocated to different countries multiple times, sometimes it works out, sometimes it does not, but in the end there is little long term impact, you can keep it, you can reverse it any time you want.

The second pot are what I call SMALL big decisions. Decisions that we take with little thought and analysis because they seem small at the moment but in reality they are really fucking HUGE decisions that can impact the rest of your life, both positively or negatively. Like driving home after having a few drinks. No biggie, (some) people do it all the time, it’s not like you are going to call a convention to discuss whether you are under or over the limit. Most of the time nothing happens, but sometimes, just sometimes, you happen to slide into the opposite traffic lane and kill a happy family of four. Then you’re fucked for life. You will see their faces in your dreams for the rest of your life, you’ll be branded a killer and nothing can reverse it. All because of the SMALL decision that you probably took without much thought.

Other SMALL big decisions include having unprotected sex after a fun party and getting some poor girl pregnant. A child is for life, you can’t give it back if you don’t like it after couple of years. Well, you can, but that is really really mean and he will still probably find you and kick your ass after 20 or so years.

As an afterthought, BIG small decisions can become plain BIG decisions. For example, if you’re stuck in a company or relationship that you don’t really like but are too afraid or lazy to change or do anything about it. 1 or 2 years will have no long term impact on you, but as the years go by and you keep delaying the decision to change anything about it, this inaction transforms from a small decision to BIG decision. 10 years in a career you despise or abusive relationship is much harder to recover from than 1–2 years of the same thing.

So don’t wait, don’t procrastinate, next time, when you freak out about something BIG you need to decide on, try to look at it from long term perspective, is it a BIG small decision or a SMALL big decision. Will this matter when you’re 65, will you even remember it? If not, then fuck it, just do it and stop worrying.