Resource Allocation and the Tragedy of Living-by-Default

I am reading Clayton Christensen’s (excellent) book How Will You Measure Your Life? (expect more posts inspired by this powerful book… ).

On page 72, he says “Unless you manage it mindfully, your personal resource allocation process will decide investments for you according to the “default” criteria that essentially are wired into your brain and your heart.”

This is absolutely true, and should scare the s&$t out of us!

Unless, of course, one’s personal resource allocation process (RAP) was consciously and authentically created, and is regularly reviewed and updated.

But – as almost all of us – would have to admit, it isn’t.

There are myriad shapers and influencers of our RAPs.

From our parents, to school and class-mates and on to the media, there are so many ways that our RAPs get – how can I say this charitably? – nudged in ways we would not, if we were to choose carefully and consciously, allow.

This is how, in busy lives, we make un-healthy and in-authentic choices.

It’s how we spend too much time at the office and too little with spouses and children.

It’s how we eat like crap and instead of fueling our bodies in ways that give us energy and vitality.

It’s how we zone-out in front of the TV instead of reading and studying materials that will help us develop positively.

And on, and on, and…

As a coach this sort of thing is my stock-and-trade. There’s no better entry point to shifting a client’s life than to look at their results and reverse-engineer their choices.

This is the mindfulness that Christensen mentions above, but it’s after-the-fact. It is important work to do, as it identifies and begins to strengthen the awareness “muscle.” But in and of itself, it’s incomplete.


It can, however, serve as the “wake-up-call” that clients need. It’s a bit like doing an autopsy on a body, but the cadaver isn’t really dead… This is the magic of the human mind: We can recall  past events, process them in a quasi rational-emotional way and derive the wisdom and energy (i.e. purpose) necessary to make different – better – choices in the future. (And not being slaves to instinct.)


We must learn to shine this light of awareness on our present-moment-choices.

We must develop the ability to make decisions – large, small and everything in-between – with awareness and intention.

Not that we need to labor over each and every choice, that won’t be necessary as we make more and more better choices. The great thing about automaticity, is that it works both ways – bad choices beget more bad choices, good choices beget more good choices.

The way to get started with this is to identify an area of your life that isn’t working (but isn’t in crisis… ) and ask yourself:

  • what do I really want to create here?
  • what else could I do that would shift my results?
  • what is the smallest change I can make here, that will actually make a difference?

Answer those questions and review your choices in that area as often as is necessary. I would say at least six times per day, if you’re making a practice of it. Some changes will require more “check-ins” to create the requisite awareness.

Oh, and one more thing, you need to do “this” for at least 21 days.

Or, you can keep living by Default…

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