The Art of Decision Making

It was 9:32am as we sat around our breakfast table. On the surface it had every appearance of a leisurely Saturday, complete with coffee, scrambled eggs, and the iPad all ready for a nice long Facetime with grandma and grandpa. But underneath, the adrenaline was already kicking in.
“Well, should we do it?” Evan asked.
“Umm … I mean, we could,” I stumbled in typical non-committal fashion. “It’s not like we’re flying to Europe.”
And with that, we checked the computer one last time to confirm we still had a shot, and then commenced the Great Mad Dash as we threw together overnight bags, baby diapers and airport badges. Everyone should get to experience the incredible high awarded to those who succeed in packing for the weekend, driving to the airport, making it through security, to the gate at the very end of the terminal and on the plane all within 90 minutes. Bonus points for remembering to bring the baby along. Since we started this crazy non-rev adventure (flying non-revenue, aka standby, where you don’t buy a ticket and only get on if there are open seats) a few years ago, I could probably count the times on one hand that I’ve walked calmly onto a plane without looking like I’ve just run a race. But it’s all part of the fun, the adventure, the game.

This particular weekend we only flew out to Rapid City – probably one of the shortest flights leaving the MSP airport that morning. Other contenders for the weekend were St. Louis to visit my sister or Boston to see my parents. Rapid City won because some of the great-grandparents hadn’t yet met Henry and because if we got stuck there (which has happened before) we would still be within driving distance to ensure Mr. P made it home for school.

It’s interesting to notice how you manage the whole decision-making process when living the life of non-rev. I am an indecisive person by nature and can hardly pick out a stick of deodorant on my own (too many choices!). Now imagine me standing in front of a departure board at the airport and trying to decide which destination to go for, or more often, what path we want to take to get there (the old adage rings true: it’s not about the destination but the journey). Flying non-rev is a real exercise in making last-minute decisions and working through whatever challenges result.

Once leaving Amsterdam there was only one seat open and we had to decide if we should split or stick together. As Evan pushed me through the gate and onto the plane I knew we had made a mistake. Sure enough, that night I got stuck in Madison, Winsconsin while Evan hopped on a later flight and flew first class, wining and dining all the way across the Atlantic.

Right now we’re planning our first trip as just our family of three – without any grandparents, sisters or friends on the other end. And with all of these choices in front of us, it makes me think about the art of decision-making again. I’ve come to realize that what governs my decisions – both while traveling and in life – is often not what I want to do but what I don’t want to do, or can’t do. Besides choosing to marry Evan, most of the biggies in my life were somewhat passive in nature. Choosing my college, my major, even where we live and career direction. Sure, I was invested in all of those decisions as well and excited by those choices (Um Ya Ya!), but I’m not the type of person who b-lines it to their destination. I like to carve out my choices by chiseling away at the white space, taking time to create and shape the final product. In many ways planning this trip has been the same way. We weigh our desires and use practical limitations that present themselves to help us govern our choices; the process of elimination, if you will. We have a baby, so we don’t want to go somewhere terribly hot and near the equator, or with lots of indoor museums and stuffy spaces, loud crowds or fancy restaurants. We don’t want to take more than two flights to get there, and we don’t want to go somewhere either of us have been.

… curious where we decide to land? Come and check back here soon or follow us on Instagram (@carolyn.pierson). Now, fingers crossed the seats remain open and we make it on board.
How do you make decisions, whether it be the biggies or choosing where to eat? Do you rely on the process of elimination or are you focused and go confidently in the direction you desire?  Apparently I like to think about choices often.

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