Is Being Practical a Bad Thing?

Is being practical a bad thing?

Is being practical a bad thing?

Like the majority of behaviors, practicality occurs on a sliding scale and is neither inherently good nor bad. For this reason, when clients ask “Is being practical a bad thing?” I invite them to look at the question in a more holistic way.

In this article, I’ll talk about how to:

  1. Answer the question “How practical am I?”
  2. Understand when practicality will support you vs. hinder you
  3. Manage fear when you need to be more or less practical to reach your goals

I’ll also share stories that highlight when being practical pays off, as well as when impracticality is the best option!

Is being practical a bad thing?

“How practical am I?”

At any given moment, you’re somewhere on the spectrum above. If you’re assigning tasks to employees to get something done as quickly as possible, you’re probably toward the right. If you’re intentionally mixing up people’s responsibilities to find a creative, new way to get a job done, you might be farther to the left.

Similarly, if you just simply must have a certain cake for your birthday that’s only made a bakery 50 miles away, you might choose to be completely impractical for a few hours so you can go get it. Upon returning home, you might immediately freeze half the cake so you don’t eat it all in one sitting, thereby catapulting into the far right end of the spectrum.

Very rarely are people stagnant in their practicality. More often, they dynamically move across the spectrum based on their beliefs and motivations.

Think about your day so far. What’s your range of practicality been? Was there a time you were more toward the left on the spectrum, as well as moments when you were closer to the right?

“How practical should I be?”

To answer this question, you must first ask: “What are my goals?” To help you understand how these concepts connect, I’ll share two examples

Example 1: You want your product to be the first on the market (a case for throwing practicality out the window)

A great article in Forbes tells the story about Dhruvin Patel, the founder of Ocushield, Patel got the idea for his blue-light filter while studying optometry. Rather than make a business plan and do market research, as is the customary way to start a business, he immediately invested £7,000 of his own money into creating the product.

“Patel then broke [another] rule of business; don’t spend money unless you have a good idea of the ROI. He says: “When we were in the PR and marketing phase of the business, trying to gain press coverage, we had no idea of how much time and money our efforts in this area would be.” –Forbes article

The risk paid off. Patel and his team got great reviews and the company became a success.

In this case, Patel threw practicality out the window. He had a vision for what he wanted, deeply believed in what he was doing and wanted to make sure he was first to make it happen.

Example 2: 

Let’s talk about magic.

I find magic when I leave behind “should” and choose the opportunities that light me up.

Case and point: My upcoming retreat to India.

When my colleague Cat and I chose the location for our second retreat, this was MAGIC. We wrote out all the places we could possibly go, and chose the spot that filled us with the most wonder and excitement.

Our decision went against many of the standard “retreat-planning rules.” We chose a location far from the United States, created a longer itinerary, etc… because it felt right.

Trusting yourself sometimes means breaking the rules.

Good thing we did! Our decision worked out beautifully! We now have 10 gorgeous people signed up for the trip of a lifetime (two spots are left — is one of them yours?!)!

You know, people talk a lot about RULES.  But often, a rule just represents ONE option.

Many people, like Nelson Mandela, left a legacy by breaking the rules. Still more people found success in business because they went against the norm (check out this article by Forbes!).

It’s important to know the rules, yes. It’s also important to trust yourself enough to break them.

Here’s to less “should,” and more magic!

Managing the fear of going outside your practicality comfort zone

Other articles about this topic:

On Being Practical – Psychology Today

What’s the Use in Being Practical? – Administrative Theory and Praxis

9 Traits That Define a Practical Person – A Conscious Rethink

About the author:

Megan Taylor Morrison is a best-selling author, coach and dance-obsessed world traveler. When she’s not working with clients, you’ll find her making tamales, hiking or laughing with friends.

Read more about Meg’s coaching style or her services.

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