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When I was in school for a graduate business degree, all the professors talked about cost-benefit analyses. I’d also heard about them at my job, so it wasn’t a new concept, but these instructors made a big deal about it. In short, for any project or change being considered, it was important to look at how much measurable good would result in light of the investment made. In business, this was a quantifiable comparison of both sides.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I heard mental health professionals and self-help pundits using the same principle with regard to personal life changes. It was an interesting notion with a twist. Sometimes the analysis needed to happen when a person was clinging to old ideas and behaviors. Potentially, a person might choose not to engage in a new behavior or implement a positive change in her life because the cost seemed to be greater than the perceived benefits.

Wow… who knew it could be that difficult to release what is holding you back from accomplishing an important, potentially life-changing goal? How is it possible that a person would choose to stay enmeshed in a situation or a behavioral pattern that they KNOW is making them miserable? One can usually see the result in others who did make the choice, and it looks pretty great. What’s going on in the mind?

Setting aside the complexity of an addiction disease, it can only be that old friend, fear, again. We are too afraid to of the unknown or the possible, yet temporary, discomfort of a new normal to move toward it. Resisting change is common, but that doesn’t make it the right option because of fear. It becomes that much more important, then, to do the cost-benefit analysis.

I’m not kidding. Open a spreadsheet. Get a pencil and paper. Do a pros and cons list. Make a flow chart or decision tree. Map out exactly how the change will likely manifest for you. Maybe you’ll discover the time isn’t right to make a change, or perhaps you’ll get validation for getting off your duff and acting immediately. At least you’ll have done your due diligence which should increase your measure of confidence about your choices.