Beware and Be Aware of Your Preferences

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

“I’d rather…”

It’s a simple phrase, and a simple thought in the moment.

In modern affluent society, adults make approximately 35000 decisions a day. Presumably you make these daily choices according to your preferences.

But which preferences?

The answer to that is critical for you to beware, and be aware.

Preferences Are Like an Onion (or Pyramid, or Neural Net)

Preferences can live in isolation.

I’d rather listen to heavy metal than jazz.

But they also live in context.

I’d rather listen to heavy metal when I’m driving, but smooth jazz during a dinner party.

Preferences also live within a complex set of contextual interdependencies with other preferences.

I’d rather run, but I’m training for a triathlon, and my plan calls for a swim today. Since my overarching preference is to maximize my performance in that triathlon, I will choose to swim.

There are layers, and hidden layers that stack and are interdependent, as well as contextual.

The Slippery Slope

“I’d rather…” can lead you down a slippery slope if you are not aware of those contextual interdependencies.

You might say, “I’d prefer to be healthy.”


I’d rather have Coke instead of water.

I’d rather not schedule the colonoscopy.

I’d rather find a pill than a food solution.

I’d rather spend money on entertainment than quality food.

You might say, “I’d prefer to have a productive day.”


I’d rather hit the snooze.

I’d rather do the easy task.

I’d rather give the appearance of being busy.

You might say, “I’d prefer to have more money.”


I’d rather not live on a budget.

I’d rather my weekends were free.

I’d rather spend money on entertainment than a side business.

You might say, “I’d prefer to have a better marriage.”


I’d rather not discuss the day.

I’d rather not get involved in her/his stuff.

I’d rather not expose myself to emotional danger.

You might say, “I’d prefer to not get laid off.”


I’d rather be old school.

I’d rather not teach others what I do.

I’d rather do the things I already know how to do.

You might say, “I’d prefer to be a leader.”


I’d rather stay in my lane.

I’d rather not put myself on the hook.

I’d rather complain about the current leadership.

You might say, “I’d prefer if people knew my name.”


I’d rather stay in the back.

I’d rather not put myself out there.

I’d rather someone else do the presentation.

You might say, “I’d prefer if I could get somewhere in my life.”


I’d rather stay right here.

I’d rather not make a plan.

I’d rather think that I am unlucky.

You might say, “I’d prefer to make an impact on this world.”


I’d rather stay in my comfort zone.

I’d rather not try something that might fail.

I’d rather not make some people made at me.

A Bit About Preferences in Marketing Messages

Well done marketing speaks to your preferences. In fact, it requires your preferences because there are literally hundreds and thousands of choices to be made.

Smart marketing is never about convincing you. It’s about picking you as the intended audience and feeding you with the preferences you already have.

“Hey…you who likes blue widgets! You’re the smart one to like blue widgets because they’re the best! Good news: we have them over here.”

Smart marketing messages can bring positive or negative change to your world by speaking to your preferences…so beware and be aware.

How to Beware and Be Aware of Your Preferences

Here’s a tip that has helped me and has kept me moving forward on some important goals.

I evaluate my preferences against my comfort zone.

Is this “I’d rather…” choice keeping me in my comfort zone, which is then prohibiting me from reaching the larger goal or preference?

If so, I try to choose against it. It’s not easy, nor do I always succeed.

For example, writing these articles. My big-picture preference is to build an audience on which I can make a positive impact. Six months ago, my comfort zone was winning and I wasn’t even trying to write. I was giving in to the “I’d rather not write today” preference.

A funny thing happened, though. Even though I was failing to make the “correct” choice, I became aware that I was making this choice (and others) consciously. That conscious awareness has helped build my decision making skillset.

Whatever your overarching “I prefer…” statement is, you are probably making some connected “I’d rather…” choices that align, and some that don’t.

Be aware of the ones that align. Beware of the ones that don’t.

You can start by evaluating these choices against your comfort zone.



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John Macdonald

John Macdonald

Obsesrver, Life-Curious, Beginner — Writing to try to figure out the stuff in my head