The problem is, in most cases, the consequences will hit so far in the future that the cause is practically divorced from the result.
Take the choices you make today about what to eat or drink, or whether to skip the gym or push yourself to go, or how late to stay up tonight binge-watching the latest TV series on HBO. By now we all know the possible outcomes of smoking, and we recognize that more sleep and less caffeine are probably better for us (though there’s debate about the latter), yet in the throes of the day to day, it’s hard to perceive the actual impact. That’s because these things accumulate over time, and it’s typically only after many years of questionable decisions have gone by that the impact will be known in the body.
OK, so before you tune out because we’re waxing too philosophical on you, we have to point out that the decisions you make today will also affect your outcomes in getting into bschool.
We harp on BSers every year at this time that getting started on app strategy early is wise. (Very wise.)
But making a decision is hard – especially when it involves effort. It’s easy to join the gym on January 2nd, when you feel guilty about overindulging on December 31st, and ready to embrace the New Year with all sorts of vows to change. But when January 5th rolls around and it’s dark outside when your alarm goes off, it’s way easier to hit the Snooze button like a gazillion times and blow off your planned early morning trip to the gym entirely.
Decisions about the future are hard, because the person making the decision NOW is not the person who will need to execute on (or live with) the decision LATER. You are assuming that the motivation you feel after finally shaking off that New Year’s Eve hangover on January 2nd, that you will turn over a new leaf and make a real effort of getting into shape this year, will still be intact in your psyche on the remaining 29 days of January when you have committed to yourself that you’ll be going to the gym without missing a day. The person who wakes up on January 5th is simply not that person who made the commitment to join the gym in the first place. The person who wakes up on January 5th is tired and grumpy and hasn’t had any coffee, so who can blame them for not wanting to drag themselves out of bed to subject themselves to the unpleasantness of a grueling early morning workout?
EssaySnark is writing to you today on behalf of your FUTURE SELF.
Your TODAY SELF does not realize how quickly the time will be passing. Your TODAY SELF feels like the Round 1 deadlines in September are a forever away, and that you will get started on your applications soon enough to make it all happen. Your TODAY SELF is living in a mirage.
You do not have all the time in the world. If you start now, you will have JUST ENOUGH time to do all that needs to be done at a reasonable pace without getting too wound up about things. In fact, if you start now, you will still feel that you don’t have enough time at the end – but at least your FUTURE SELF will also feel proud that you took EssaySnark’s advice and didn’t dick around in the Spring, but instead made the most of this long stretch of days and weeks leading up to those deadlines. You will feel stressed, but you won’t be pissed off at your own self for screwing around.
(You will also save money, BTW, if you choose to use our services – all MBA admissions consulting options are super cheap right now!!)
The decision to get started on your MBA applications is one you’ve probably already made. That part is simple. That part is what brought you to the blahg in the first place. And while we compliment you for being forward thinking and planning ahead, and for starting to get started, for most of you reading this today, you haven’t actually gotten started. Instead, you’re pretending to work on your apps by reading the blahg, or the forums, or whatever other MBA-focused site you are frequenting in your daily internet rounds these days.
But you need to recognize that reading blahgs and BSer forums is not actually getting started. Our post today is to exhort you to MAKE A DECISION that your future self will thank you for. And you know what? THIS DECISION IS EASY.
It’s even what Jeff Bezos calls a Type 2 decision – one of low risk:
Some decisions are consequential and irreversible or nearly irreversible – one-way doors – and these decisions must be made methodically, carefully, slowly, with great deliberation and consultation. If you walk through and don’t like what you see on the other side, you can’t get back to where you were before. We can call these Type 1 decisions. But most decisions aren’t like that – they are changeable, reversible – they’re two-way doors. If you’ve made a suboptimal Type 2 decision, you don’t have to live with the consequences for that long. You can reopen the door and go back through. Type 2 decisions can and should be made quickly by high judgment individuals or small groups.
That was from the Amazon 2015 Letter to Shareholders (download here if you’re interested – fascinating read about the way the business is run).
When you read it in context, you realize he’s talking about something quite different than we are today, but it’s still relevant and true to the point we’re making.
It’s the Type 1 decisions that change your life:
- Propose to the girl (or boy)
- Put the bid in on the house
- Accept the transfer to the overseas office
It’s the Type 2 decisions that get you to the point where you can make the Type 1 decisions:
- Buy the engagement ring (you can always return it!)
- Make an appointment with the realtor
- Tell your boss you’ve always wanted to work abroad
You’ve decided you want an MBA – and probably you’ve even taken the GMAT or are in the process of doing so – but both of those are still Type 2 decisions. You’ve committed, but you have not committed.
Even starting on your apps is not committing – that won’t come until you pay the first deposit at a top MBA program sometime next year (and even then it’s not irreversible, you can always decide not to go).
But that “pay the deposit” thing cannot happen until you’re accepted, and that cannot happen until you’ve convinced the adcom that you’re the one they want, and that cannot happen without doing a bang-up job on the app, and that cannot happen without a lot of effort on the essays, and that cannot happen if you don’t get started soon.
Right now, what you’re faced with is a long stretch of days full of many, many opportunities to make Type 2 decisions:
- Shall I go out with the gang to Happy Hour tonight?
- Or shall I stay home and watch Netflix?
- Shall I head to the gym instead?
- Or shall I … work on my MBA application strategy?
All of those seemingly have little to no consequence in your life, but all of them will lead you to very different possible outcomes. The decisions seem inconsequential today, but they change your destiny in the aggregate.