Predetermined breaking points - or "Sollbruchstellen" (German)Using "defaults" for better life decisions: Creating predetermined breaking points (“Sollbruchstellen” in German) on a regular bassi for life and work decisions.

I was thinking about "defaults" and "quitting" lately and have a thought around how they are linked and effect each other. A question/idea which came up: Shouldn’t we create predetermined breaking points (“Sollbruchstellen” in German) in our lives and careers?

The idea:

Creating “review” points every 5 years, where we are forced to reevaluate the as-is situation and decide again.

Defaults are strong. The older we get, the more our defaults seem to be set to “continue”. Wouldn’t it add value to challenge life decisions every 5 years? And for that, creating Sollbruchstellen which force us to review and actively decide whats next? As with all defaults, it wouldn’t take away the opportunity to continue. It would just change the default to “do something new”.

Let’s assume all work contracts would be limited to 5 years. After 5 years, the default would be leaving the job as the contract is terminated. Only if both, employer and employee agree, a new 5 year contract gets set up. The same for marriages - every 5 years both partners have to confirm their “yes", else the marriage is over.

This setup does of course not need to be legally binding by re-writing all contracts, but could also just be a reminder in your calendar to review all big decisions every X years. But I assume the effect would be much stronger, if it was a real breaking point and the defaults were indeed changed.

Why would you want this?


- I believe people stay in jobs, partnerships, places, etc. for too long. And there is some big cost (opportunity cost) to it. This is not really scientific, just a gut feeling.

- For the remembering self, the length of a period is not very relevant (4 weeks beach vacation doesn’t add a lot of value to the remember self compared to 3 weeks beach vacation). Hence, trying out many things in one life, might make it more full-filling looking backwards.

- At the same time, if the experiencing self is really enjoying the setup it is currently it, one can still opt-in for continuing. But if the experiencing self is not fully committed, those breaking points offer a nice opportunity for change.

- Life seems to have more Sollbruchstellen when we are young. After elementary school, after high school, after undergraduate studies, after internships, after graduate studies,…all those episodes are usually time-boxed and therefore provide a great opportunity to decide what to do next. As an adult working in a stable corporate job, the next official “Sollbruchstelle” is retirement. Disclaimer: I am aware, that this is an extremely privileged perspective on work. It would however also be true for relationships and private life decisions.

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