February 16

You’ve likely heard the phrase “desperate times call for desperate measures.” I believe it’s terrible advice. When you are desperate, you will seek any glimmer of hope or even the slimmest thread of an idea to pull on. You will often do things in your desperation that forfeit your future viability. You may build boxes (or cages) that you have to live in long after your moment of desperation has passed. You make deals with devils.

Instead, desperate times call for measured responses. When you feel desperate and need to make an important decision, pause and reflect. Consider all consequences of your decision—not just first-order consequences but second-order consequences. Ground yourself in reality, and refuse to allow yourself to feel hemmed in by your sense of desperation. Don’t react; respond. Consider the bigger picture of what you’re trying to do, not just the immediate pain you’re trying to relieve.

Making big decisions when you feel anxious or boxed in, whether about creative strategy or life in general, can cause mountains of regret later. Always pause, reflect, and respond.

During stressful moments, be extra cautious when making decisions.

Is there a place right now in life or work where you feel desperate and are in danger of making a desperate decision?

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