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Givin’ a flip – the art of forcing a decision

How many times have you tried to make a seemingly insignificant decision and simply cannot weigh the pros and cons? We’ve all been there and most of us waste a ridiculous amount of time trying to decide which decision to make, “Should I cut my hair? Should I go to that party? Which is better the green or aqua shirt? Whiskey or beer?” etc. etc. etc. What if there was an insanely easy, simple, and convenient way to make that decision? Something like flipping a coin? Yeah I know when I first thought about this I silently smacked myself in the forehead and muttered, “uh duh.” As primitive as this solution may seem, it works.

Here’s the deal, let’s say a group of friends are trying to decide whether or not to enjoy a local paragon folksy band (Haunted Windchimes anyone?) or a foot stomper, shake your money maker original/throwback band (Is that Martini Shot I hear?). Typically this is how it goes down; there’s the one person in the group who obnoxiously tries to sway everyone else or the silent type who has no opinion until a decision has been made whereby they promptly sigh and have a terrible time. Take out all the bias, flip a coin, and be done with it.

Oftentimes I’m lucky if all I have is two decisions to choose from. Typically I have to narrow from four or five to just one. Turns out I can also flip a coin for multiple decisions. Look at it like a scaffold, start with two and keep eliminating until there’s only one option left, easy. — Side note: this works really well when trying to decide what to wear, cardigan? superhero t-shirt? glasses? all three? Seriously try. it. out.

For the continued naysayers who insist that nothing is as easy as flipping coin, here’s your golden nugget. So the verdict has been made the coin lands on heads and upon landing your heart fills with a sense of dread. The upside is that even though the coin flip didn’t have the results you hoped for you still discovered your ultimate decision. It’s a win-win.

I recently couldn’t decide whether or not to get a new tattoo (I already have seven pretty modest tattoos). This tattoo would be much more visible and larger, as a professional this is something that takes diligent consideration because quite frankly most people still attach a certain stigma to tattoos.

Long story short, my professional self was arguing with my inner exhibitionist and neither seemed capable of weighing the proverbial scale in their favor. So, I flipped a coin; heads – tattoo, tails – no tattoo. Well the verdict was tails – no tattoo. I knew right then and there that I was most definitely going to add some dynamite ink to my personal canvas. Even though I decided against the verdict of the coin toss, a decision was made and one I felt 100% confident with.  Honestly I probably could have come to that same conclusion after some more internal debating, but truth is I already knew in my heart what I wanted, the coin toss just brought it to fruition.

For the cynics who are on the fence about the legitimacy of flipping a coin there is another option. Steve Levitt the renowned economist who co-authored the book, Freakonmics has created an experiment that takes indecisive individuals through a questionnaire designed to help them come to a conclusion regarding whatever dilemma they may be facing. If at the end you’re still undecided they’ll flip the coin for you. The whole experiment is focused on finding statistical data that either supports or denies that flipping a coin improves the quality of life for those continually tentative types.

The next time a seemingly superficial decision needs to be made, find yourself caught in the throes of vacillation amongst your friends, happen to be contemplating a decision while wandering through the vicissitude of life, or just can’t make up your mind, remember to “Flip a coin and carry on.”

by Genevieve Ackley

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