Making Choices


My mother manages the office for a sprinkler installation and maintenance company. On a call this week, she mentioned she's been working long hours over the past few months because the company is installing far more sprinkler systems than they usually would during a typical summer.


On the street where I live, no fewer than five of my neighbours have decided to upgrade the exterior of their homes in some way; paving their driveways, improving their landscaping, building decks in their backwards... and that's just from what I can see.


My wife suggested we invest in an above-ground pool for our backyard... but she hasn't been able to find any in-stock anywhere. It's a good thing we bought our kids a trampoline last summer, because this year, they're sold out everywhere too. And good luck finding a bicycle. While riding her bike several weeks ago, my daughter managed to get a hole in her tire. I tried to order her a replacement tire through a bike repair shop, but the shop told me that bikes and bike supplies are essentially sold out everywhere, and have been for months.


We all know we're living through a global pandemic, and we've all heard stories of companies having to lay-off workers as a result. So what's with all the discretionary spending?


Here's my theory: people who are fortunate enough to still be working are likely less worried about tightening their belts. And if those people had money set aside for their annual vacations, by now they've realized they're likely not travelling anywhere this year. So those people have chosen to take that money and upgrade their homes, making them more beautiful, more functional, and more fun.


They're making different choices.


During this pandemic, many of our choices have been made for us.


You want to continue going to the office? Too bad... work from home.


You want to continue going to the gym? Too bad... work out at home.


You want to travel? Sure thing... you can travel to the grocery store and back, but that's it.


As the world begins to open up again, we're going to get some of our choices back. And that's a good time to think about the choices we make.


Want to take a course? You may need to find the funds. And spending money on a course might mean choosing to spend less on your vacation or kitchen renovation.


Want to write a book? You may need to find the time to write. And you "find time" by choosing to invest the time you have differently. (I'm writing this newsletter post instead of watching television. Watching TV would be easier, but I choose to write because I believe that will be more rewarding in the long run.)


Want to live a healthier life? Choose water over soda, and vegetables over potato chips.


Want to hire a really great employee who's worried about commuting to your office every day? Choose to be flexible with how often you really need them to come into the office. (If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that remote work can actually work.)


Of course, you already know all of this.


It's about whether or not you'll choose to do anything differently going forward.


- dp