What if ‘Maybe’ is the Problem?

What if Maybe is the Problem?

Maybe I should start a side business. Maybe I should make time to pick up my painting hobby. Maybe I’ll be there. Maybe we should do lunch. Whatever the question, “maybe” is a powerful mental shield that prevents action. It’s a simple answer that allows us to feel satisfied in giving an idea consideration but the confidence to do nothing in response.

We all have “realities:”

  • I have bills to pay.
  • I have deadlines.
  • I have a status to keep up with.
  • I have to look a certain way.
  • I have a safe job.
  • I have neighbors to keep up with.
  • I have parents to impress.
  • I’ve invested too much money in my education.

Hard answers are easy to avoid and hide under the noncommittal maybe. The non-answer reframes our decisions because it allows bias in our response. This is directly related to one of the typical issues in the decision making processes The Heath brothers discuss the in Decisive as:

  1. Framing the choices too narrowly.
  2. Confirming our hunch with only data that supports it.
  3. Being overly-emotional in the response.
  4. Being over-confident in our ability to predict the result.

Maybe you’re in the midst of a long, grueling work stretch, and you need nothing more than to take a long weekend with your family. The stacks of work on your desk tell you “no, I have too much to do.” Sometimes the little mental exercise of reframing the “maybe” into what if can make all of the difference in the world. What if you took the vacation with the family just for the weekend? What if you explain to your boss it’s going to be your top priority next week?

“What if” is a different frame of thinking; it reframes the question and allows you to envision the hypothetical. What if I do start the side business? What if I pick up painting as a hobby? Some of the more interesting decisions that I’ve made resulted from entertaining the decision that is contrary to my first hunch.

What if you rethink your next big decision?


Jeremy Floyd

Jeremy Floyd is the President at FUNYL Commerce. Formerly, he was the CEO and President of Lirio, Bluegill Creative, a marketing and communications firm in Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to managing the digital strategies, Floyd was an adjunct professor for the University of Tennessee Chattanooga MBA program teaching digital strategies and social media. Floyd blogs at jeremyfloyd.com and tweets under the name @jfloyd. Jeremy is licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from MTSU in English and Philosophy.