Do you ever choose to spend time on something because it looks easy at first glance?

Acknowledging and embracing ABBA can help you decide if it's something that really matters to achieving your goals.

So what is ABBA? It's what happens when you have to choose whether to do "A," "B" or do both.

In the diagram at left, I have a waterline right under the initial A & B, because to the casual observer, all one sees initially are options A and B, like the tip of an iceberg. But underneath the surface, each decision leads to a myriad of other decisions that take time to work through - most of which one can't anticipate until actually experienced.

Every decision leads to "ABBA," even if you don't think it will. In fact, not thinking that a decision will lead to ABBA is just an indication of our inability to anticipate problems before we're actually experiencing them -- a great limitation of humans in general (and often a result of not thinking in frameworks). The only way to avoid ABBA is to not focus on that decision and never go down the path.

Whether you choose option A or option B, you're still going to be confronted with layers of ABBA at each decision point as you work through each option, so the only mitigation is to spend your time on the ABBAs that really matter. Focus on spending your time in ways that you will enjoy the challenge of figuring out all the little problems that come with every decision. Don't be fooled by the illusion that you can just "take care of it real quick" because there's an ABBA laundry list of problems lurking just under the surface, waiting to strike each time you do that, and your time will be sucked away by them.

A special thanks to my good friend Sean Shadmand, who has really been the driving force behind ABBA and pushing both of us to remember its impact. Now, before we make decisions, we both discuss the ABBA implications of each path to the extent that we can.