MARCH 28, 2021
“Talking wisely and acting wisely are not the same. People may talk wisely but not necessarily act wisely.”—Sushil Rungta
You are driving on a beautiful coastal highway and enjoying the scenery when you hear car brakes screech and push down on the brake as forcefully as possible. A landslide is pushing the road in front of you into the sea, not allowing you to go ahead. What would you do?
Most probably, you will turn around and try to find an alternate route to go to your destination as that is the most practical decision you can take. If you decide to wait for the authorities to clear out the debris and rebuild that section of the road, you will be the biggest fool in the world! By the time the road is constructed again, you will die of starvation. The latter option is entirely illogical.
But when we are driving on the road of life, we mostly choose starvation. When it comes to life, we CHOOSE impracticality.
The only way to save ourselves is to turn around; we need to CHOOSE practicality.
What is Practicality?
If you were to drive on the coastal road in real life, you would undoubtedly agree with me that turning around and choosing an alternate route is the best and the most practical option. Whereas waiting for the road to be rebuilt is utterly impractical and illogical. What do you learn about practicality from this case?
There are various ways to do something, but the quickest, best, most effective way that utilizes the least time and resources is what we call the most practical one.
Therefore, practicality simply means following an approach that is simple, effective, and creates the best results.
Why Do We Choose Impracticality?
Contrary to practicality, impracticality means doing things in a way that is the least effective, does not produce excellent results, takes a lot of time, and wastes resources like our energy and money. This does not seem to be a great approach to do things, right?
We know that impractical ways of doing things or making decisions are not beneficial, but ironically, we still choose them. When it is time to buy a new car, we don’t see what fits in our budget but go out of our way to buy an “expensive” car on loan, only to suffer from the stress of mounting interest in the future. When we need to finish a task or project, we don’t take the practical approach of planning it out and doing it substantially every week or every day. But we decide to wait until the last week and then don’t sleep on the last three nights before the due date to “just get it done” instead of “creating valuable work”. Like I said earlier, we CHOOSE impracticality.
But why do we choose impracticality when we know that it is not the best approach? We listen to emotions, not logic. We know that logically, it is better to buy a used car that is three to four years old because it has already depreciated but is still a great vehicle to drive. But our emotions tell us, “What! Are you going to drive a three to a four-year-old car? Won’t you look cheap in front of others? You should look cool in a new car, not a used car!” These thoughts engulf us, and we think, “A used car is fine, but I will look poor if I don’t get a new one, and it feels different to buy a new car.” And we push ourselves into the debt trap.
The same thing happens when we have to do a project. We know that it is logical and best to plan out and work every day. But our emotions say, “You can do it tomorrow; you still have a whole month left.” And we end up not sleeping at all in the last seventy-two hours.
When we listen to our emotional comfort instead of practically tackling a task or problem, we end up being impractical and make the least effective decisions.
There is another interesting way through which our emotions trap us into impracticality. Let’s say that you start working on a start-up idea. After seven months of hard work, constant brainstorming, and team-building, you realize that the concept cannot be executed as you first imagined it to be because of economic and conceptual flaws. You have reached the landslide on your coastal drive. You know that the most practical decision is to turn around and find an alternate route. This means going back to where you were seven months ago and restart the whole venture or try a new one. It is very simple. But your emotions say, “You have spent seven months trying to make this idea work, and you cannot quit now! You need to wait and keep working!” You know that the idea cannot be executed in the way you thought it would, and it is better for you, your team, and the start-up to work on the idea from the root again and pave a whole new path. But your emotions make you wait for the road to be rebuilt, and you waste resources, your energy, and your time. Emotions can play with us this way because we attach ourselves to our work or actions, and undoing them seems very daunting.
How to Think Practically?
Now the question arises, “How to think practically and make the best decisions?”
We all want to achieve the best results and work towards them effectively. And the most important step we need to take is to leave our emotions and our identity aside to find the most unbiased solution. The second thing we need is a calm mind. Therefore, in any situation, before we make a decision, we need to calm ourselves and then start thinking about the solutions.
Another crucial factor in practical thinking is having clarity. Once you are calm, you need to think of your end goal or destination and what your intention behind getting to that destination is. Let’s understand this through an example.
Two big cities on the west coast of the United States are Los Angeles in California and Portland in Oregon. There are various routes to get from Los Angeles to Portland. One way is through the Pan-American Interstate-5, a smooth, quick highway that connects multiple cities, including these two. And another way is through the roads on the Pacific Coast. Both ways lead to the same destination, but they could be either practical or impractical.
This is what the two routes look like on Google Maps. The one on the left is the Interstate, and the one on the right is the coastal road.
Two people in Los Angeles want to go to Portland. Both of them can choose any route. The only difference is that the Interstate is one single highway, while the coastal road is a mixture of a state highway, local roads, and the US-101 Route with many intersections. The first person, George, is going to Portland to propose a structural expansion of his company’s office there. And the second person, Thomas, is an international tourist who doesn’t have a time boundary and wants to enjoy his journey with beautiful views.
For George, going through the Coastal Road is the most impractical decision because this route is 300 miles longer than Interstate-5 and is much slower as it takes 11 more hours to complete the journey. For him, the interstate is a better and more practical choice. For Thomas, however, the interstate would be the most impractical because he wants to enjoy the views and doesn’t care about how much time it takes. For him, the coastal roads are the most practical.
In the same manner, you need to be clear about your end goal and your intention behind taking the journey to reach that end goal. In any situation, this approach will work, and then you will know what way you should go.
If you want to buy a car, you have two choices: buy a new car or buy a used car. Either way, you will reach the same destination. The deciding factor in your approach will be your intention. If you want a car to go from Place A to Place B and big enough for your family, then a used SUV is the most practical option for you. But if you want a car because you want to have the most luxurious experience and have comfort, functionality, and ease of driving as your primary intention, then a brand-new sedan from a luxury car manufacturer is more practical for you.
Remember, what is practical and best for someone else might not be the same for you. In every situation, all you need to do is stay calm, not bring your emotions in between and gain clarity about your end goal and your intention for getting to that end goal, and you will find the most practical solution!
Thank you so much for reading this post! I hope that now you can find practical solutions to your problems and quickly conclude that you don’t need to starve and wait for the broken road to be rebuilt. You need to turn around and find that alternate route and that practical approach! And you will always make the right decisions! Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below, and I will surely reply!
Partnering in your success, happiness, and growth,