Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Reevaluating The Status Quo...

The content for this post comes from Mark Batterson, with certain edits on my part.

A couple of decades ago, a pair of psychologists named William Samuelson and Richard Zeckhauser discovered a phenomenon they dubbed the "status quo bias." Simply put: most of us have a tendency to keep doing what we've been doing without giving it much thought. And on one level it's harmless. SoHills offers two worship gatherings on Sunday mornings. But most SoHillers attend the same assembly week-in and week-out. And most of SoHillers sit in about the same place. Some are right-side people. Some are left-side people. We've got front people and back people. And there is nothing wrong with that. We are simply creatures of habit. But maintaining the status quo can become detrimental.

For example, a study was done on college professors who were part of a pension plan. And the researchers discovered that the professors picked a plan upon entering the program, and while they had the freedom to change plans based on life circumstances, or market conditions, or even the size of their portfolio... the median numbers of changes in their asset allocation was zero! In other words, most of them picked a plan and forgot about it. They stopped evaluating. By the way, what was even more telling is that many of the married participants who joined the program when they were single still had their mothers listed as their beneficiaries.

Have you have ever been offered a free subscription to a magazine for the first year? Why would we be offered something for free? It's because magazine companies understand the status quo bias. Most of us will forget to cancel. And it's not really that we've forgotten. We're just too lazy to make a simple phone call or write a simple letter. Right? That is human nature. We tend to keep doing what we've been doing. And the problem with that is this: if you keep doing what you've always done you'll keep getting what you've always gotten.

As we get ready to begin a New Year, let's challenge the status quo. I know there is nothing magical about midnight on December 31st. And not everybody has a resolution personality. But all of us need to make changes. Take some time to evaluate your life spiritually, relationally, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. What changes do you need to make? Is there something you need to stop doing or start doing? What do you need to do more or do less?

The only other option is maintaining the status quo.