Optionitis …

Diving Board - Morguefile.com DivingboardThis post is about diseases and swimming pools …

Of late, I have found myself immersed in discussions about discerning one’s call, completing both familiar and new career/interest assessments, and generally doing a fair amount of reflection on my personal essential question:


This has not been easy for me.  I enjoy taking both psychological and vocational assessments, as anyone who follows my Facebook stream knows.  My idea of enjoyable bedtime reading is titles such as “What Color Is Your Parachute” and the like.  I can spend hours researching and learning about career paths, certification processes, and consider almost any career field as fair game for daydreaming.


You see, I have this condition called “Optionitis“, which simply means I strive to keep all my options open at all times.  Option reduction, whether voluntary or involuntary, is to be avoided.

The primary symptom of Optionitis is a strong desire to keep as many options on the table for as long as possible.

My reasoning is that if I fail at one thing, I have other things to fall back on.   This safety cushion mentality has resulted in me carrying multiple credentials, earning degrees in diverse fields (always with multiple majors or fields of study), and an eclectic taste in reading and learning.   I know a lot about many things.


Another aspect of this condition is creating Diving Board Moments:   That point when you are on the tip of the diving board, high above the pool, and all you have to do to move out and down is … well, move.

But you don’t … instead you freeze on the perceived safety of that board, while staring fearfully at the cool and clear water that seems so tremendously far away.  When we say to ourselves that we need the security of our current employment while we transition to something else, we are on that diving board.

… Or maybe you are like the person trying to step into the gently bobbing boat from the dock.   As you place one foot on that unstable boat deck, you are seized by fear that your footing will fail and you will fall into the deep and cold water.

Three things here:

If you remember how to swim, falling into water is much less scary.

If you move onto the boat, your footing will become less unstable.

Eventually you will get used to the gentle bobbing of the new place you are.

Keeping my options open gives me many potential directions to go vocationally, but it also allows me to remain stuck in place for much longer.  I can decide not to decide for a very long time.   Does this sound familiar to anyone?


Action is the prescribed medicine to cure Optionitis.

When discerning your calling or, better yet, your purpose for being, you can collect options and protect choices for only so long.   In my experience, many more people regret staying in a job too long than those who think they left too quickly. 

Risk is scary, but it is also where the prizes are …

Trying to move on out to the tip of that diving board in the Heartland ….