Release Yourself from the Either-Or Trap

It can be easy to forget that there are usually more than two options.It can be easy to forget that there are usually more than two options when faced with a big decision or even just a question.

This was brought home to me during a simple conversation.

My husband was looking for a particular book on our shelves and asked, “Is it a paperback or a hardback?”.

I jokingly replied with “yes” because I had no idea, but then realized how often questions and decisions are presented as an either-or choice as a matter of course.

Look for the third option

The fact is, there’s almost always at least a third option. Sometimes figuring out what that third option is means getting creative, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

This means that questions like “Should I stay about my job or go back to school?” don’t have to be cut and dried.

You can stay at your job and go back to school. You can get paid to go back to school. You can get a different job and go back to school. You can quit your job and go back to school. You can quit your job and not go back to school. The possibilities are wide open, once you release yourself from the either-or trap.

Apply it to your money, too

Considering all of the possibilities can be beneficial to your bottom line as well.

For example, suppose you do decide to attend school. How will you pay for it? Once again, it’s not a matter of “either get student loans or wait until I have the money”. You might not need to get student loans at all. You could go to a less-expensive school, have your employer pay you to attend, get a scholarship, etc.

Keep looking for those options

Get creative and explore as many options as you can think of, even if they seem silly or unrealistic at first. Then choose the one that seems like the best fit and go for it.

After all, if it doesn’t work out, you’ll have other options. Usually at least 3.


One comment

  • My husband applied this thinking to two job offers he received recently (with my encouragement!). One job offered a training aspect that was really attractive, but that element wasn’t present in the other, otherwise more attractive job offer. So he just asked for some of that kind of training at the more attractive job and they said yes! They even told him it was a great idea because it would make him better at the primary job function, which was exactly why he wanted it!