Repeating actions

Everything that you do has repercussions. Depending on the action, your action impacts you, those around you, and perhaps society at large. It’s therefore important to act in a way that produces the best overall outcome given the relative weight that you assign to a particular action’s impact on each of these groups of people.

The complication is that, because of factors beyond our control, the same action will produce different repercussions at different points in time. This is what’s known as luck.

As a result of the presence of luck, it’s tempting to act in a way that overlooks some of the repercussions that you would normally expect from a given action. What if this is the one time where the repercussions you’d normally expect don’t happen, or happen slightly differently?

One way that I find particularly effective to avoid the temptation presented by one-off thinking is to ask what would happen if I repeated a particular action over and over again. This approach helps you drown out the noise created by “what if” thinking to focus solely on the expected outcome.

Once you have the expected outcome of a particular action crystallized in your mind, you might still decide to take your chances on the “what if” outcome. That’s part of being human.

But if you do, you’ll do so with the knowledge of what you’re doing. As a result, you won’t be confused if you don’t like the outcome. And that makes all the difference.

Also published on Medium.