The Tattoo Rule

The Tattoo Rule encourages us to consider the risk involved in any situation before diving in.

I spend a lot of time talking about jumping right into an idea (e.g. this article), exploring the possibilities without thinking too much-simple going for it.

In many cases, this approach works wonders. The sooner we act, the sooner we are able to learn more about the thing we're doing. That learning creates the information needed to do better work in the future.

But it is also important to weigh the risks involved. For example, if you hate your job so much you want to quit on a whim, do it right now! But if you also have a family to feed, you must first ensure you will still be able to provide.

This is the idea behind what I like to call The Tattoo Rule. it goes like this:

If you want a tattoo, first choose its design, location, orientation, and size. Then, wait a year. If the desire for the exact same tattoo remains, go get it!

Tattoos have a fair amount of risk involved because they are permanent(ish). It makes sense to wait until you really know what you want.

(I have, for the last four years, always had an idea for a tattoo. But it's never lasted more than a year, so today I don't have any artwork on my body. At the moment, I have three different ideas, but they're unlikely to last the required year.)

The bigger, more generic rule we can pull out of it is this:

When there is a substantial amount of risk involved in a situation, give yourself time to organize and plan. Set a time period in which the planning will occur. Then, if after that period of time, you have what is a solid path forward, proceed. If not, ditch it and move on. Don't let it keep festering.

We can apply this not just to tattoos, but to starting a business, major life changes, or even getting your hair cut.

It's important to always understand the risk involved. But it's more important to act when it's appropriate and not let something fester forever.

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