I first read about the human tendency to keep doors(options) open and how distracting this is in a book I read last year — Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational.
We like to have options, it’s natural to us. Sometimes, we go out of our way to find said options. Humans do this all the time, consciously and subconsciously, you know, just in case one option doesn’t work out or in case we change our minds. We are forever afraid of putting our eggs in one basket.
Dan Ariely pointed out that although we do not usually realise it at the time, we give something up for keeping all those doors open. For example, giving up your time, your kids’ time and the chance that they get really good at one activity by trying to give them an experience in every activity you find. A simpler example is multitasking instead of focusing on one task which has been proven to increase effectiveness. We keep all these doors open because the truth is it’s easier to see what we’ve lost after (if ever) we finally close the door
While having options definitely has its perks, is it efficient in the long run? What are you losing by keeping that option open even when you are not sure its leading anywhere? It just takes your energy and commitment which maybe put to better use by investing in a door that should actually be left open.
I have seen this tendency manifest in my own life. Sometime, It’s a seemingly small task — like deciding between 2 or more options in the store even if they are similar and sometimes it something much more daunting like focusing your energy or commitment on one career path per time. I have seen it in the lives of people around me too.
Now, I just hope I remember this tendency next time I am faced with multiple doors or options. I hope I choose one as quickly as possible and keep moving.
This will help me do more worthy things with the time I would have spent being indecisive.
Be like Tobi — Make a choice, close that door.