I’ve found it’s possible for me to agonize over minor decisions for ridiculous amounts of time for practically no reason at all. Many of my friends know all about this aspect of me. I call it the Envelope issue.
You see, one day I was at Target shopping for some envelopes. I needed to mail some documents, and I was concerned about the security said mail. I went to the office supply area and found two types of envelopes which could possibly work. However, neither had everything I wanted in my envelope. I actually can’t remember the features at issue, but for the sake of the story, let’s pretend one envelope had a peel-away self-adhesive seal while the other had a printed pattern that helped occlude the contents from the view of would-be mail snoopers. Both were called “security” envelopes.
For me, I wanted the envelope with the peel away seal AND the more “security” type printing on it representing the best of both worlds. So what did I do? Did I quickly determine which was more important and pick up the box of envelopes that would get the job done? No.
I sat there for maybe 15 minutes uselessly agonizing over this decision which ultimately was not a big issue. First of all, either envelope advertised it would retain the seal (surely at least for long enough for it to travel a day in the mail). Second, even if it didn’t have the more secure features on it, the practical chance someone mess with a piece of mail that looked like a personal item is pretty low. It wasn’t a check or anything, and it didn’t appear like it might be.
Of course, I eventually made the BEST decision possible… of course…
Later, I told one of my clients about the silliness, and we both laughed about it. She encouraged me to let go of stuff like that, and I knew she was right. The topic came back up again much later when I was agonizing over an element of a project for which the same client was looking to review. I brought the issue to her to get her thoughts, and she leveled with me: “It’s an envelope,” she said. “Just make a decision and move on. I don’t care.”
We had a bit of a laugh about it, and “envelopes” became sort of a keyword whenever I was starting to sweat the small stuff too much on over an issue that wasn’t really important. Sometimes, a small “this or that” decision can be extremely important. Other times, it’s just like choosing between two similar types of envelopes.