Reversible & Irreversible Decisions

I originally read this in a book about mental models, in which they referenced Jeff Bezo's approach to making choices.

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.

Before hearing about this, I was a lot more risk-off in day-to-day life. I would agonise over choices like “Where should I go next in life?”, “Is this a good friend to keep?”, and other similar questions.

After I started trying to apply this model to life, I came to realise that very few choices in life are irreversible in my own life. Breaking off a relationship, a bit irreversible. Moving somewhere, reversible. The changing of friends when you move, can be irreversible if poorly managed.

This mind shift has allowed me to take thousands of experiments, it has enabled me to start picking up the phone more willingly, and it started my journey with

I’m trying to ask myself each week - How can I take more reversable risks? (I think this concept is covered in

Little Bets

Some examples:

Eating Poorly - Reversable within a short time frame. Irreversable over 10 years.

Lung Damage - Irreversable

Being Rude - Irreversable

Being Kind - Reversable

Reputational Damage - Rarely Reversable (Therein lies the importance of building an

reputation from Day 1. Perfectionists don’t understand this concept.)