What’s The Cost Of Inaction
February 14, 2021
In her book, The Writing Life, author Annie Dillard presents a meditative view of what a well-lived life looks like. She captures the essence in this beautiful quote ” How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
All of us will spend almost a third of our life at work; In fact, most of us will spend approximately 90000 hours at work over a lifetime. Therefore, it is fair to say that what we do in our work life has a huge impact on our overall quality of life.
Many of us come across inflection points in our careers where we struggle to choose between pursuing our dreams and doing a job and earning a salary.
- Someone wants to take a sabbatical and get back to school but feels stuck because of family responsibilities.
- She wants to become a full-time artist but the prospect of losing the stable income that her day job provides worries her, even though she hates her day job.
- This person knows that the current workplace culture does not align with his values. Still, he is willing to feel miserable and not move because the other job is unwilling to match his salary expectations.
Fears, false beliefs, wrong expectations imprison many and prevent them from taking affirmative action even though the clock of 90000 hours is winding down remorselessly.
Usually, when faced with career choices, we all evaluate the potential downsides of taking some action. “I am going backward in my career if I accept a lower pay,” or “what happens if I don’t make it as an artist,” or ” how will I manage the lifestyle for my family if I take a break?”.
However, it is equally important to measure the incalculable cost of inaction. If you don’t pursue those things that matter to you, that excite you, where will you be in 1 year, five years, ten years?
How will you feel in the future, having allowed your present circumstance to impose itself on you and having allowed 30%, 40% of your finite working life to pass doing what certainly will not fulfill you?
In one of his books, Tim Ferris describes Risk as “the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome.” If you know what you are currently doing will most certainly lead you on a path of disappointment and regret, then through inaction, you are taking the most significant Risk of your life. The time you spend doing what you are doing is gone and irreversible.
If someone feels very stuck, I don’t recommend that they take rash decisions and move out immediately. But, I certainly recommend that they start preparing themselves to commit to those actions they know they have to take but are afraid to take.
Don’t get stuck calculating the downside in a risk. Also, measure the cost of inaction. The cost of inaction is sometimes far higher than the risk of taking action. If this calculation helps tilt the balance, you will know that you have to take action.
What you fear doing most may be the action you most need to take !!