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What is Your Default Setting?

While we may not realize it, a mix of natural tendencies, social norms and codes of conduct give us an almost algorithmic framework to how we make decisions. Add in our natural risk aversion, which has been formed by millennia of falling prey to saber-toothed tigers (or believing one is lurking around the bend), understanding how we are hardcoded to make or avoid decisions, ironically will help us make better choices. What better time to confront this dilemma than at the cusp of a New Year, when so many possibilities may be missed by our deep-seated apprehensions and decision-avoidance biases.

If life is nothing more than the sum of our experiences and time is at once our most precious and scarcest asset, reevaluating our default setting can profoundly change the way we experience the world and how the world responds to us. Far too many people are hardcoded to no or maybe as their default setting. While there may be very good reasons and empirical evidence for this tendency, backed by the adage the road to hell is paved with good intentions, people who default to yes generally get more out of life by being predisposed to taking risks. In a decision tree, yes creates new branches and growth, while the negative choices prune them back. This is something we can not only overcome, but master. Doing so consistently, as if by second nature, makes us protagonists rather than bystanders.

My default setting is yes. While occasionally this may lead me to some degree of regret or “buyer’s remorse,” defaulting to yes has opened many more doors and possibilities than the alternative. Saying yes more often than not is the equivalent of pulling on the string of life unraveling it to see where it takes us. A yes alone, however, may not take you very far if it is borne out of fear of missing out (FOMO) or insincere. If you say yes to something it is critical to be authentic, consistent and to do what you committed to. The difference between a Rolex and a replica after all is consistency.

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