I read somewhere recently that most of us make decisions based on emotion, despite how we may try to convince ourselves of the inherent logic of our choices. It’s the reason why you tell yourself you are spending more money for the better quality of the premium brand cereal, when in reality the generic brand is just as good, but it just feels better to get the name brand because you really want it. Or why you blow the $5 on the coffeeshop latte, even though the coffee you can brew at home would save you the cash and be just as good, and justify the unnecessary expense as a deserved treat for some kind of good behavior or accomplishment.
This emotional drive is present in business decision-making as well, despite how most entrepreneurs and management professionals try to justify the course they ultimately take by pointing to some sort of long-winded analysis. For example, I just agreed to sublease office space on a part-time basis, telling myself that I need a reliable space to meet with clients on occasion, that the office location and fellow tenants in the area will add growth to my business by way of heightened visibility and referrals, and that the price was too good to refuse. In reality, I just loved the space and had to have it. Lest I leave you with the impression that my decision to take on a relatively huge financial commitment like this is, for me, similar to the purchase of a nice pair of shoes, let me just say that I do believe those things I mentioned a moment ago to be absolutely true. This wasn’t a decision made on a whim or without weighing the attendant risks and benefits; but I believe that my emotions ultimately fueled the decision. I can also think of options that I have decided against in the past, despite their apparent logic, all because they just did not “feel” right to me. Instead, I told my brain to quiet down and just trusted my gut. So far, this strategy has worked.
As with business, so it is with family. I chose to have my awesome kids at pretty much the exact times I wanted to, and even though my brain offered plenty of justification for why those exact times were precisely the right times (It just makes sense given where you are in your career! You’re in your 30s and who knows when your ovaries will give out? A two-year spacing lets you get the baby stage over and done with quicker!), I think it really came down to this: I just felt like having kids. I couldn’t guarantee a successful outcome (What if I’m not ready to be a mom? What if we can’t afford to do this?), but I just trusted my gut to tell me this was the right decision. Completely ridiculous, right?
Or maybe not. I rarely hear anyone say that having kids was a mistake, or that the losses incurred in the process outweigh the amazing positives that come along with little ones. And when I have heard comments along these lines in the past, I was usually able to dig a little deeper and learn that there’s more to the story. Every parent has a frustrating, overwhelming day and lets a thought like this slip, but you would be hard pressed to find someone who truly, seriously, and permanently regrets becoming a parent. Simply put, the decision is driven purely by emotion, and the benefits are pretty much guaranteed, and more than justify the risks.
I wish I could be just as confident about my new office space. Not that I have any reason to doubt my decision, but while others have assured me that I’m doing the right thing, I still recognize the risks involved. I absolutely love it and I am experiencing nothing like buyer’s remorse at the moment, so hopefully it will stay that way. What’s the worst that can happen – the money dries up and I need to bail? Not likely, but then, even if this is possible, it’s clear that I stand to benefit from this arrangement in ways that I clearly could not by continuing to work from home. There is absolutely no shame in a home office, and I think some clients are impressed by the mobile, technology-enabled futuristic vision of today’s home business people. But after a few people inquired about where my office was, and my husband cracked a joke about me “going to the office” (read: pick up my mail at the UPS Store), my emotions won out and I knew I had to find a space I can call my own (or, in my case, my own on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays).
When it comes to having kids, however, there’s no reason to suppress emotion in favor of what your brain is trying to convince you is pure logic. If you are on the fence about having kids, let your gut win and just do it. The money will come, and all the other reasons you gave for holding off will fade away into unimportance. Honestly, if you’re anything like me and agonize over decisions like this and create all kinds of tables and spreadsheets trying to compare all the relevant facts and analyze the issue to death, it proves that you are conscientious enough to make a wise decision that is far from reckless or irrational. So stop worrying so much on the risks and just focus on the rewards, like I did.