I Don’t Make Decisions in the Middle of the Month
Are you thinking about buying a new car? Maybe a new house? What’s the date today? If it’s before the 9th or after the 21st, go ahead, but think twice if it’s the middle of the month.
Every night, I journal what happened throughout the day. I recently did a read-through of all sixteen years of my journal entries and made an interesting find: I make better decisions closer to the beginning of the month.
When I make major decisions in the middle of the month, it almost always turns out badly.
- I traded my 2000 Toyota Celica for a Nissan Sentra on the 11th.
- I almost always quit diet or workout plans around the 15th.
- I sold $1,500 worth of comic books for $20 on the 17th.
- I charged $4,000 on a credit card to go to Disneyland on the 19th.
The second-act slump
Like a bad script, the middle is where things slow down, maybe even becoming monotonous. What happens when you get bored? Your mind wanders.
In the middle of the month, I tend to get existential in my thoughts. I don’t look at the silver linings and dwell on the dark clouds. It’s easy to get down when I look at how far I have to go to get to where I want to be.
When the 15th rolls around, we all start stressing about upcoming rent payments, how late our car payments are, and why we’re still paying so much for internet connection. Why haven’t you called to get that phone payment reduced yet?
Making decisions when you are depressed, fearful, or desperate, is not the position of strength you need to make positive decisions.
Add in major life decisions — anything that will cost you money or add/remove a commitment — and you have the perfect storm to send your life trajectory in the wrong direction.
Explosive first and third acts
It’s easy to believe that you suck at making decisions when they blow up in your face as they do for me around the middle of the month. But contrast those decisions to the ones I made closer to the beginning or end of the month.
- I bought my house on the 3rd.
- I married my wife on the 7th (and proposed on the 2nd — of a different month).
- I quit my job on the 22nd.
- I bought my dream car on the 28th.
As the end of the month approaches, you begin thinking about how next month will be different. This is a departure from the “woe is my life” mentality that comes from the dark moments of the middle of the month.
With the regrets of your midpoint recollections fresh in your mind, you start to get creative and make new plans to accomplish your goals.
Then the 1st of a new month rolls around and you get active — looking to make good on those plans.
You make decisions after the 1st amidst the momentum you’re gaining on your goals. If the end of the month is where you decide on new directions, this is where you make those necessary course corrections.
You’re in a position of strength and making the best decisions of the month.
Coming full circle
Unfortunately, some of those course corrections don’t pan out. You were gaining steam, but you made a wrong turn somewhere. Around the 10th, you start to doubt yourself.
Is this even what I want for my life?
This lands you right back in the middle of the month, fearful of being on the wrong path and depressed that you’ve done it again.
You’ll go back to regretting some things, make new plans, and start the momentum going. Don’t make decisions until this shift happens.
The beginning and end of the month are filled with regret and optimism, which are motivating in their own ways. The middle of the month is filled with fear — not the place you want to be operating from.
Awareness is the first step in making changes. If you know that you will make bad decisions around the middle of the month, delay what you can until more optimistic weeks come around.