Fish and Decision Practice

If you don’t know, I’m a huge aquarium fan and a proud member of my local aquarium.  My mom is allergic to most furry pets, so I was only allowed to have fish for a long time growing up.  I don’t get too many chances to use my aquarium membership (or I should say I don’t use the opportunities. I actually could be there every Saturday morning, instead of sleeping, but I haven’t so that’s that). Last night I went to an open house at the Shedd aquarium.  It was fantastic.  I saw behind the exhibits, which sometimes was ABOVE the exhibit on a catwalk.  I really wanted to take a picture but I just imagined dropping my phone in the tank and the stingrays mouthing the touch screen.

While in the bowels of the museum, with HVAC engineer husband the conversation inevitably turned to piping and ventilation.  It would have been rude to walk away when the conversation veered somewhere uninteresting to me, but I did let my mind wander to where exactly did I go wrong, that these people got right, so that I’m not playing with fish all day but they are.  I love fish.

Or, maybe, I did it exactly right that I have enough spare money that I can be a member of this aquarium, and other museums.  I can do the fun part at each museum rather than spending most of my day in their underground offices, only coming out for open house.  I couldn’t ask. It wasn’t in the spirit of the day.

Fortuitously, the section that I read this morning in Nudge, my commuting book, touched on practice and feedback on important decisions. You get loads of practice on unimportant decisions, like grocery shopping.  You can learn your lesson about buying too much produce, when you go on vacation and have to throw out a ton of rotten fruit.  But not so much for the big ones like choosing a career, life partner, saving for retirement, etc. You only get feedback on the path you chose, not on the paths you turned down. You don’t get a do-over when you invest aggressively and lose all your money. Or invest conservatively, and miss a big win.

I find myself pining for a do-over careerwise, but I’m not pulling the trigger on a career change just yet.  I’m just not convinced that if I’d gone a different way I wouldn’t be peering down the market research path, longingly.


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