To Act or Not To Act:
Which is Costing You More?

By Debra K. Traverso

Copyright 2008 by Debra Traverso, OneCall
All rights reserved in all media.

The content of this article may be forwarded in full without special permission provided it is used for nonprofit purposes and full attribution and copyright notice are given. For all other purposes, contact Debra Traverso at

I usually weigh the costs – financially, professionally, personally – of major actions I take. I throw the pros and cons on my worry scale to see if the actions I’m considering outweigh any negative repercussions I might experience afterward. I’m aware that what we fear doing most is what we most need to do; still, I let my mental scale lead my thinking.

Then recently, at a stressful time, a friend challenged me to take a Tuesday off to accompany her to a spa. Given that I have this silly notion that I’m irreplaceable, I harrumphed back a response that she might be able to disappear from the office easily, but I certainly could not. What she said next stymied my reasoning and shattered my resolve: “Deb, you always overanalyze every step you take. Did you ever stop to think about what it costs you not to do things?”

Essentially, she was saying that rather than calculating the costs of my actions, I should equally measure the exorbitant cost of inaction. What was it costing me healthwise not to take time off? What would be the personal price to our friendship if I turned down another offer from her? How long would I enjoy my work if I felt I was a prisoner to its demands?

To make a long story short, I agreed to accompany her to the spa. Okay, I admit - I knew I could disappear from the office seamlessly since I had a cell phone and a find-me-follow-me number to handle incoming calls and faxes. I knew clients would still think I was in the office. However, I still dismissed myself from the deskwork and the busyness of daily office life. The next day, I was relaxed, productive, astute and capable of completing tasks twice as fast as I had just two days earlier.

What I learned is that, by calculating the cost of the inaction of going to the spa, I lessened the fear of the action of going, and mentally removed the obstacles to taking that action. Most people will choose dissatisfaction over uncertainty, convention over the indefinite; that certainly applied to me prior to my spa day. I was willing to choose the office (essentially, unhappiness and convention), when compared to a day at the spa, over the uncertainty and indefinite rewards of what my absence and a spa trip could provide.

So, my lesson is your challenge for 2008 – What is inaction costing you?

  • You know you need to contact the local editor about an article on mortgage financing tips. It could elevate your notoriety in the community. What is it costing you in marketing potential, not to make that call?
  • It’s time to build a team. However, you’ve crunched the numbers and have determined that building a team would require a lot of upfront money. What is the inaction of starting a team costing you in potential income?
  • The “under 35” crowd is amazingly savvy when it comes to techno-anything. What is it costing you in potential revenue not to communicate on equal terms with them? Can you afford not to update your software? Expand your website with virtual tours? Participate in real estate blogs? Subscribe to unified messaging to consolidate voice, fax and email?

And speaking of unified messaging – If I had a dime for every person who told me that they wish they had subscribed to Mobile Manager sooner, then my son’s college education would already be paid for!

Now, thanks to my inaction insight, when people tell me that they can’t afford $18.95 per month to simplify and streamline their communication (and their life!), I refer them to the client testimonies at our website so they can see for themselves that the cost of inaction is much higher.

You’ve waited long enough
Sure, I realize action vs. inaction is just a matter of semantics and of looking at the same situation in two different ways. And so are the concepts of waiting and procrastination. We like to say we’re waiting for this and that before we take action, but really what we’re doing is procrastinating.

The Big Payoff
Ask yourself what you have been putting off. Objectively compare: (1) your rationalization of the cost – financially, professionally, personally – of an action your gut tells you to take, and (2) the price you will pay for not taking those same actions.

You might be surprised which bears the higher cost.

Copyright 2008 by Debra Traverso, OneCall
All rights reserved in all media.


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