How Many Options Do You Have?

Jim BensonDesignPatternsLeave a Comment

The other day I was driving down Point Brown Road in Ocean Shores, Washington. Ocean Shores is a small town with almost no economic base. If you live there you are likely a retiree or work in one of the restaurants or hotels that serve the tourists. The Internet in Ocean Shores is anemic, but it does exist. Yet, when I drove by the McDonalds in the center of town, the sign said, “Now hiring, apply on-line.”

There is an assumption that everyone, now, in the United States has access to the Internet.

With the Internet, we can reach millions of people in an instant. We can research anything in milliseconds. We can find opportunities.

We live in a world of options.

Options of growth, options to waste our time, options to be informed, options to be misinformed. We can get a degree. We can write a book. We can work at McDonalds.

This is good and this can be overwhelming.  We can now build a wide-range of things to do simply through the electronic slabs in our homes.

Further, we have all the expectations placed on us by co-workers, bosses, clients, family, friends, the government, and ourselves. They want us to do things. We want us to do things. All those things are more options.

We all have tons of options.

When you are creating your first Personal Kanban, your first goal is to simply understand all you could be doing right now or that is expected of you.

The Options Triangle

Understand your options

Here’s how you might start out.

  1. Write down all the expectations people have of you.
  2. Write down all the things you would like to do (not just work, you want to go to Bali and sit on the beach … write it down.)
  3. In your options column make a triangle like the one below
  4. Use this to organize your current supply of options by placing the options in the portion of the triangle that best described the mix of obligation, desire, and growth.
  5. Ask yourself … what does this mean?

With this quick tool, your work will begin to take shape. Is your work merely obligation? Do you want to do the work on your plate? Is this work building your skills or challenging your intellect? Ideally, we’d like to see tasks working into the middle to middle -right of the triangle. We want to engage in options that allow growth and that we enjoy.

This helps us see the context of the options we have amassed. A vacation in Bali will likely be high in desire and even growth.  Moving to Bali and sitting on the beach for eternity might be a good escape, but might not be so high on the growth side.

One other thing about this triangle. It’s not the magic trianglethere is no magic triangle.  There is no magic anything except magic erasers for everything else, you have to work.

You can swap out any of the words in the triangle at-will. If you want to collaborate more, swap out “growth” for “collaboration”. Your context is your own.  Another triangle might measure risks like “resources” “complexity” and “time”. Make your own, improve on it. Make a better one, but please examine your options carefully and choose wisely.

Jim BensonHow Many Options Do You Have?

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