The “What if” Myth

There are these little myths we often let ourselves base important decisions and major purchases around. I like to call them the “What if” myths. Because of my business I seem to hear them all the time. That said, the tech savvy are not immune either. I myself have fallen prey more times than I care to admit. In almost every case, these phrases lead us to spend more money than necessary, pack more in our bag than we have to, and purchase far more machine than we will use . It also keeps us from truthfully examining our day to day needs.

Here are a couple of common examples:

“What if I need to run Photoshop?”

This is the common excuse I hear from designers as to why they need, in addition to a desktop machine with a large screen and powerful graphics card, a portable machine that can perform with suitable aplomb.

My challenge to this myth is two fold: a) How often do you really need this kind of power in a mobile situation? Can these rare times not wait until you return to your desk? b) Do you really need a desktop machine as well as a portable? Why not sell the desktop and have one machine that is both powerful and portable.

“What if someone sends me a Word document?”

This is usually the myth I hear from people who are convinced they need Microsoft Office. These folks are certain that they run into such situations “all the time” but, when pressed or investigated, I usually find out it is about twice a year and the documents themselves are things like kids birthday party invitations where the information within is far more important than the formatting.

My challenge to this myth is that TextEdit can open any Word document to the extent that you need it to. Most times, it will do so flawlessly. It can even save out in MS Word formats so if you need to make some simple edits and send it back to someone who has fallen prey to this same myth, you can. Even those funky new .docx files all the MS kids are crazy about these days. If push comes to shove, you could get the iWork suite so that you can open Excel files (in Numbers) and Powerpoint files (in Keynote). The bottom line, you don’t need Microsoft Office.

Don’t you mind about the future? Don’t you try to think ahead? Save tomorrow for tomorrow; Think about today instead.

– “What’s The Buzz” from Jesus Christ Superstar ‘

The thing with all of this is, why plan for and base such choices on the boundary cases? Why buy something for what you hardly ever do as opposed to what you do all the time? If you encountered such a scenario, is the fallout so costly that you can justify spending more or having more than you need up front and every day? If so, then I can understand such a choice. If not, then why not purchase what you need (or even better, find a way to make do with what you have) when you need it?