Before the Ice Cream Starts Melting in Lane 7
Picture this. It's Friday after a busy week. You have nothing in your fridge or pantry that doesn't require some combination of chopping, heating, and assembly before it can turn into something edible, and frankly that just seems like too much after the week you've had. You figure you'll stop at the store on your way home and grab some good ol' fashioned comfort food (read: Ice Cream) because it's hot and humid as blazes and the only thing you want in the entire world is a gallon of mint chocolate chip, a spoon, and your couch.
You get to the store and zoom straight to the freezer aisle and snag a 1.5 qt container of slow-churned before remembering that you're also out of milk, so you might as well grab a gallon while you're there.
Milk and ice cream in hand, you scan the checkout lanes. Lanes 1-3 have screaming children, Lane 4 has two patrons in line, and lanes 5-6 are closed. Lane 7 only has one customer, so you head that way. Encouraged after seeing the man in front of you only has basket that's half-full, you hop in line.
After a couple minutes of scanning the tabloid covers, you realize you haven't moved. Upon further investigation, you notice that the gentleman in front of you has filled his basket with dozens of packages of M&M's, and that none of the bar codes appear to be scanning properly. The checkout girl snaps her gum as she manually enters a price override...for each bag of M&M's.
Seven more minutes go by, minimal progress has been made on the M&M entry, and your right arm is sore from lugging around a gallon of milk. To add insult to injury, you feel something drip down your arm, and you discover your mint chocolate chip has begun to melt, leaving a trail of sticky pastel green. Super.
Meanwhile, lanes 5 and 6 have opened, and several customers have checked out and gone on their merry ways. So. Do you stick with Lane 7, or do you abandon ship and head one lane over?
After all, you've spent this long in line, what's a few more minutes? Surely the guy in front of you is about done...right? But on the other hand, there's nothing committing you to this lane, and that's a few more minutes that you don't have to stand there in a puddle of melted ice cream.
The truth is, bad decisions cost a lot--time, money, sanity, you name it-- but we stick with them all the time because "that's what we decided to do." If data and observable facts are telling you there's a better option out there, those are reasons to consider reconsidering the initial decision to see if an alternative makes more sense. There comes a point when you're committed to your decision, so the sooner the better. For example, it's probably not a good idea to switch lanes when your ice cream and milk have been rung up and are sitting in a bag--then you might as well go through with it. But when you're standing there, ice cream melting down your leg and milk curdling, it's time to reevaluate where you are. Can you get there better somewhere else?