Leap Year Lesson #66: Sometimes It’s Best to Sleep On It

Posted: March 6, 2012 in Decision Making
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For many years I’ve had a basic rule that I don’t make major life decisions when it’s dark outside. I know that sounds a bit whacky, but my thought is that at the end of the day I am more likely to be tired, perhaps irritable if something negative comes up unexpectedly, emotional, sleepy, and consequently I may make a rash decision that I later regret. It’s best to sleep on something overnight and have some clarity of thought and reason in the light of the next day.

As an example, I have a draft email in my personal email account that has been there for about 2.5 years. It was drafted when I was really angry at someone following a contentious meeting where someone harshly and unjustly attacked a good, decent person before a large group of a couple hundred people. I will never send the email, but I keep it there as a reminder to sometimes wait before responding with quick emotion.

Another example came tonight when I checked my work email and found waiting for me one which immediately got my blood boiling. I resisted the temptation to respond quickly and emotionally and, instead, emailed my wonderful teammates and manager on how best to respond lest I do something I later regret. I’ll hear their advice tomorrow and then act in a manner better than I would have tonight.

It’s a matter of self-discipline and maturity, of not thinking you must always make immediate decisions – especially ones fraught with emotion. It’s a hard lesson and not one I have always followed. When followed, however, I can’t think of a single time I have regretted delaying a response or decision for a day.

Leap year lesson #66 is Sometimes it’s best to sleep on it.

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