Search This Blog

Friday, October 3, 2014

Would You Cast Your Fate to a Coin Toss?

by Chris Brady

360 words  

Carol’ Brill's recent “Bald is Beautiful” post about losing her hair during cancer treatment is a pretty hard act to follow. My life is on cruise control compared to what she is going through right now. Her decision to quit hiding her baldness, to let people see the face of cancer, was a courageous step away from the safe and familiar.  

I thought about her choice as I listened to an audio book, Think like a Freak, by the Freakonomics collaborators Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. If you don’t know these authors, they are an economist and journalist who study human behavior and package their findings in amusing and easy to read books, blogs and podcasts. Their research frequently  overturns conventional wisdom and has practical applications in our lives.

The Freakonomics authors wanted to help people who were stuck in neutral to make some big life decisions. They asked them to accept the fate of a coin toss. More than 30,000 people participated in the toss and the follow up surveys.  

How did it turn out for people who accepted the coin toss result? 

Pretty good for the large majority. There are probably explanations for that outcome. After all, once we choose a path we do our best to make our choice a success. But sometimes just making the choice is the hardest part, isn't it?

I liked the idea of trying my big question on a coin flip. I asked if I should retire early. It's a difficult choice as I love what I do and appreciate the financial security I'm building. (Women in my family live a long time.) 

But I see how carefree and happy people off the work grid are too and I wonder what great experiences await me as I accept the golden handcuffs of employment.

So I flipped and I have my answer, which I am keeping to myself for a while as I process it.  I took the best two out of three options. I'm feeling good about it too.

What's your burning question?  Would you toss a coin to help you to decide?


  1. Chris, I'd toss a coin on something little or maybe if I really thought either outcome was a good one.
    I do believe in coins on some level-when I find a heads-up penny, I always anticipate good luck.

  2. I guess I needed the coin toss to reinforce where my brain had already gone. But it was fun to see they were aligned.

  3. Chris, this post made me smile. My best friend and I in high school used to use a coin toss to decide lots of things. We relied less on the coin toss than on how we felt when we saw the result :) What did you decide? Are you sharing it yet?