Indecision is Killing Me

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LegoMillenniumFalcon_is_my_42The twitching leg that stops me from sleeping. The pretending to be asleep for long enough to try to fool my body as my mind tosses and turns under it’s mental duvet. Waking up. This is good. It means sleep came. Not enough to ward off decision fatigue.

In essence, I have a big decision to make about my next property investment. While there is no pressure to make a decision right now, there’s always the fear of missing a deal counteracted by the potential regret of making the wrong deal. As the say in real estate,

“The deal of a lifetime comes along every month.”

My gut tells me to do one thing. It says go. Start. Stop holding back, and do something – anything – even if it’s wrong.

My System Two brain says let’s rationalize this. Let’s make a spread sheet and evaluate things. Let’s compare the unknowns of this deal to the general unknowns of any deal.

I was five when I was first crippled by the weight of indecision. In the days when breakfast cereal was consumed unashamedly without diabetic consequence, my pancreas had worked overtime one summer. I ate as many bowls of Frosties as possible. Not just for the high, but for the tokens. Once I had enough I could enter the contest and all I had to do was choose which prize I wanted. Option A: the unfathomably vast collection of space Lego which would have kept me glued to the carpet for weeks. Option B: the trip for four to Disneyplace in Florida.

Even though I hadn’t won yet, I was already like a frog with two flies on his nose.

The Lego was what I really wanted. That was my gut talking. Then System Two brain came along and assessed the monetary value of Option B – surely higher than the Lego. The Disney trip would make my family happy, and be better value. But I wanted the Lego. The days went by. I occasionally asked for outside help in trying to decide which was the best prize. I would explain my criteria and then receive,

“Choose whichever one you want most.”

42

Just dropped in to see what decision my indecision was in

When I entered the contest and won the prize, do you know which one it was?

Exactly. I didn’t follow my gut. I didn’t follow my System Two. I didn’t decide in time to enter the contest. I kept avoiding the decision, hoping for more information or insight. I can clearly picture exactly the same situation echoing through my later life – which university offer to accept, which dating offer to accept.

So how do I escape the tyranny of indecision inducing a simultaneously hyperactive and catatonic state this time?

Firstly, I’m going to reduce any trivial decision making for the day. Lunch is now planned. I know what I’m going to eat for dinner. For a man like me with precious little routine outside the needs of the family, this is key. I know that I’ll work at home until lunch and complete my online due-diligence first. Then I’ll drive to two properties to review them. I’m going to drive to the tram, not cycle. And you know what, I’m going to make a spread sheet. That spits out a yes or no answer. Then I’ll use it again and again.

After all, I believe in the power of computers – I’m at that age which represents the meaning of life. I’m forty two. It took Deep Thought 7.5 million years to figure that out. I have 24 hours to make this decision. If it pans out right, I’ll be able to buy myself the LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon.

Breeding Dragons

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Exhausted, I lie on the sofa and watch a show about Welsh people of both traditional genders. They have no jobs. They borrow money to pay for beauty treatments.

My daughter lies on my side and nurtures my exhaustion with her soft child embrace. I realize that she is glued to the characters on the screen. I muster some energy to lecture, and do explain unsecured debt and the difference between assets and liabilities. I don’t want her borrowing from her tomorrows.

Breeding Dragons

Coins for Dragons for Coins

My son meanwhile breeds dragons. He builds a dragon house, and then hatches an egg. The egg grows, and yields him silver coins. He uses silver coins at the farm he has built to buy crops. The crops feed the dragons. More silver coins come from the dragons. He builds his empire, oblivious to spray tans and tattoos on the telly.

I’m drawn into the game, the resource management. I look at the numbers and treat the dragons as assets. There’s no need to lecture here. Every aspect of the game is spoon fed so that even a four year old with limited reading ability can follow the big calls to action and learn to spend coins. To breed dragons. To make coins.

Of course the gold coins in the dragon land can’t be earned.  Gold coins provide shortcuts. These must be brought with real money from the real world. This is something my son has little of, and certainly none in a form that he could spend online.

Later when dragons are hatching as the children sleep, I attend a property investment webinar. Webinar man with his professional head shot and his persuasive story line is on the other end of the internet. He is selling two things.

The first is the asset based model. Houses are his dragons, and he wants me to have dragons too. Houses provide the silver coins to buy more houses. Webinar man develops the game play in our minds. The dream of truly passive income in the long term. More silver coins than our day job provides. Unlimited dragons. Unlimited houses.

The second thing he is selling are his gold coins. If I buy with my real world money his seminars and teachings, he will spoon feed me the steps I need. He will sell me the shortcuts.

He will augment the bricks and mortar of the real world with big red animated arrows which say, “Buy me!” He will help me build my dragon collection. He will grant me an empire to produce my own silver coins.

Ultimately I appreciate what he’s doing. I’ve seen the likes of Webinar man before.

I teach my son not to spend his money on gold coins, but to grow his dragons organically with time and patience. I want my children to learn to delay gratification, to learn to give up the short term for the long term. I’m not always the best role model for delayed gratification, but then again, I’m not an unemployed Welsh person with a spray tan either.

I write, but this does not provide for my family.

I want to spend more time with my family. Maybe Webinar man can teach me how to keep the silver coins coming on to give me space to write. All I need is a few gold coins. And some small child cuddles to remind me why I’m doing it.

Writing and Parenting

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parentingShe told us from the stage in the belly of Nottingham Writers’ Studio. The author, publisher and mother told us about her first book. Perhaps five or six years old, she had drawn Star Wars characters and written stories. Her very name means fairytale she said, as she unveiled her latest book of grown up fairy stories.

Sitting on the tram home I opened another of her books. A compilation of poetry about parenting. Poetry always confounds me, as does parenting. Surely the book would too.

My mask of practiced emotionless was not prepared for the relentless onslaught of the poetry. The words elegantly conjured up in me the intimacy, the bond between parent and child. They forced me to feel the intensity of that love.

The words made a strong and gentle love and I poured them into me. I was soon overrun. Tears streamed from Old Market Square to David Lane.

The book went into my bag. I only had until Phoenix Park to rise again from my puddle and stiffen my upper lip.

A bundle of six year old cuddles awoke me the next morning. My daughter showed me a book she had written and illustrated and read it out to me with pride. It was a self-help book with six steps for me to control my anger.