This blog post is bugging me. I know it shouldn’t, but it is. The writer is advocating on behalf of “doing nothing,” saying that it’s sometimes the best option when you are stuck between choices or are otherwise struggling in some way.
What he’s saying is, I know, just a kind of twist on the age-old advice to sometimes take a break and let your mind wander. Taking a nap, staring out the window for a while and other activities have been shown to help increase decision-making abilities and productivity.
That’s not “nothing,” though. That’s something. This isn’t the first time I’ll pull out one of my favorite Rush lyrics:
When you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
No choice, I’ve found over the course of 43 years, is binary. Even if there are only two options put in front of you, the third choice to take neither option is always (OK usually) there. But that doesn’t mean you’re not making a choice. It means you’re making the best choice you can in that moment, which is sometimes to simply abide. There’s a lot of value in abiding.
To say that you’re “doing nothing” is to buy into the societal myth that every single moment needs to be one of moving forward. It’s either Path A or Path B but you need to be going down a path. This is the kind of thing that’s drilled into us as kids when our parents tell us we can’t just sit around on a Saturday morning. It’s the thinking that’s behind that pervasive question that seems so innocuous but which is actually indescribably burdensome: “What have you been up to?”
If you’ve got a decision to make you don’t necessarily need to choose one option or the other if neither is the right fit for you. There are exceptions, of course, based on your situation. If you’re able, though, to say “Not right now” and wait for a better pair of cards to be turned over, it’s alright if you take it. That’s not “doing nothing,” it’s actively making a decision based on the best available information. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.