Is your decision to leap rational? Or reasonable?

calling career risk Apr 27, 2022

We know what we love to do, and we see others making money at it. It feels like a good choice to leap into doing our thing full time, but is it rational?  How does one know when a decision to leap is reasonable?  Here’s how to think about it.

A rational approach

A rational decision is a mathematically optimized strategy.   We start with a cost/benefit analysis, then consider projections based on market research and historical data.  It means we run the numbers and the numbers tell us what choice to make. 

That kind of thinking will lead to the least expensive route and cut costs at every turn.  All that matters here is the bottom line; there is no humanity, no social responsibility, and no consideration of the impact.  And certainly no joy!

Seriously, who wants that?

Rational decisions can be technically true but contextual nonsense.  Plus, the problem with using history as a guide is that past experience isn’t a map.  It can teach us, and offer insight, but it cannot accurately predict results.

Numbers alone don’t consider the support we’ll receive or the enthusiasm we feel by stretching fully into our personal power.  In truth, rational decisions are designed to completely eliminate precisely those considerations.

A reasonable approach

When things get tough, the rational decision is to cut our losses and move on. When our heart’s work is at stake, that option becomes unimaginable.

What we really want is to maximize how well we sleep at night.  Our world moves far too rapidly to base a decision solely on rational thinking. A reasonable approach considers all elements in our awareness, including our heart’s desire.

But, uncertainty remains.  We don’t know what we don’t know.  Things that have never happened before happen all the time. The world and our circumstances are constantly changing.  It’s too unpredictable to leap without considering more than just the numbers. 

There has to be a tipping point, a reasonable course of action, or no one would ever take a risk or follow a different path.

How to reasonably proceed

First, we do our analytical homework.  We use logic to build in a margin of safety and create a backup strategy for when things go awry, because they will.

Then, we take the leap toward our dream.  We close our eyes, jump off the cliff, and grow our wings on the way down.

Here’s why this approach is best:

  • Following our passion gives us the endurance necessary to keep in the game.  Life will throw curveballs, cash shortages, and angry customers at us when we least expect it. When we love what we do, we’re more likely to stick with it.
  • We’re more willing to experiment and question our assumptions.  Doing what we love makes us willing to constantly seek new solutions; it keeps us innovative and taps our creativity.
  • The concept of home bias, like always purchasing supplies from our favorite vendor, will help us with that leap of faith.  When we’re working with who and what we already know, that level of certainty gives us a floor to stand on as we reach farther and farther toward our aspirations.
  • When we follow our heart’s path, we feel like we’re part of something meaningful.  Contribution is a human need, like a sense of belonging and independence. Tying our daily activities to a larger purpose blunts the downtimes.

You can do this

It’s difficult to look at a ladder reaching upward and imagine what it’s like at the top. We don’t know what’s between here and there.  That’s just the nature of our world and it can paralyze us before we begin.

So, we start with the first step.  We know what needs to be done at that point and how to make it happen. Then take the next step. Every decision along the way propels us forward.  Each step can be both rational and reasonable. 

Looking back, we’ll be glad we took the leap!

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