The Responsible Decision Is Not Always the Best Decision

Posted by on August 19, 2010 in business, choices | 0 comments

Most people follow a logical process when making an important decision. You consider your options, imagine what the outcome of each option might be then decide. If you are a grown-up, you try to make responsible decisions so that you can pay your bills, save some money, take care of your family.

Here is a story where the responsible decision was entirely wrong:

At one time I was driving close to 100 miles a day. I drove a Mitsubishi Eclipse that had over 100,000 miles on it. Unbelievably, the car was worth more than I owed on it, and I decided to trade it in on something with fewer miles and a warranty. (In retrospect, this may have been the original mistake.)

We researched cars, from the stodgy, roomy, and dependable to the fun, sporty and fast. Then we went and looked at cars. Several times. We had two middle school aged children, but the most important factor in my mind was gas mileage rather than space. Our kids were small, they didn’t need much space.

On one of these car-scouting trips we were driving around the used car section of a local Honda dealership, and there it was. A bright red, beautiful Mini Cooper. There were four or five salesmen sitting a few feet away from it so we stopped, all four of us got out, and I said, “Well? Can we test drive it and see if we all fit in it?”

They laughed and said of course, and we piled in. And immediately fell in love. My husband drove it first and started laughing and said, “You are gonna LOVE driving this car.” Then I drove it and he was right. I did love driving that car. Way more than anyone should love driving any car. But I have to be careful how I drive it. A friend recently had a car crash in their Mini and didn’t know how to deal with the situation, they decided to talk to a lawyer to better understand what their legal options were.

If you don’t know me, you don’t know that I HATE to drive. And remember, at that time, I was driving much more than anyone should have to drive on a daily basis. Over mountains, and through cities and along windy country roads. I was covering some territory.

Anyway, for years, I couldn’t drive because I would break out in hives when I did. I had nightmares about horrible crashes all the time. It was not fun. I’d gotten over all that by the time I was ready to trade the Mitsubishi, but still….driving would never have been on a list of activities I enjoyed. Until the Mini.

We were in a bad negotiating position from the start – because we were emotionally attached from first sight – and probably paid a little more than we should have. But I didn’t care. At all. My tortuous commute became fun time. Plus, the payments weren’t out of our budget so it wasn’t like we gave up anything we noticed to have the car. I got some of the cheapest car insurance uk and bought the Mini, I loved it so much.

That car was by far the nicest object I have ever owned (or probably will ever own), but I loved it because it made driving fun and not because it was beautiful, and red, and shiny, and eye-catching. Or even because it got outstanding gas mileage. Although none of those things hurt, either. I even got a dashcam from somewhere like BlackBoxMyCar to record my journeys!

It was an impulse buy of the most extravagant kind, but I’ve never regretted it. What I do regret, terribly, is that I traded it. For a Dodge Neon. That’s right. I went from a Mini Cooper to a Dodge Neon in an effort to be more responsible.

I wanted a car that would have lower payments and be cheaper to maintain because we decided to buy a house. That’s why people were recommending that I looked at some used car dealerships. I’d been told that they were much more affordable and that most dealerships will usually have the best used cars around. I ended up finding a lovely car that I really did like. However, I actually ended up paying (am still paying) far more for the Neon than it is worth. Sure, my kids have more room, but they both have their own cars now, so it doesn’t really matter anymore.

I cried all the way home from the dealership in my brand new Neon, and am back to absolutely detesting driving. Still, 5 years later, I tear up a little when I see a Mini that looks like mine did. I daydream about taking a month off work with my husband and driving the east coast in our “next Mini.”

Starting a business is the same kind of irresponsibility that Mini was. Keeping your 9-5 that sucks the happiness out of you is like driving the Neon. Building something of your own that you love and that you are willing to work day and night for is like driving the Mini.

When I was laid off, I had already been working to build Smiling Tree for a few months. Still, it would have been too big a risk for me to quit. Truthfully, being laid off was probably the only way for me to have the courage to try and make Smiling Tree our main source of income. It seemed too irresponsible to leave the steady job for the less dependable income of running my own business.

But, just as with the Neon, what appeared to be the responsible course of action was most likely not the best one. I should have kept the Mini, and freelancing is absolutely the best thing for my professional satisfaction and happiness.

All right, maybe this analogy is a stretch. Still, I miss the Mini, and I love working for myself and both decisions seem, somehow, irresponsible. Maybe it’s all a matter of learning to do what makes you happy instead of what appears to be responsible.

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