Plinko is life

Plinko is life

The daily decisions you make determine where you end up


3 min read

Remember that game that was widely featured on a TV game show called Plinko? You know the one, the contestant will stand at the top of a large board with nails or pins in it, and at the bottom are slots with different prize amounts. The contestant drops a disc from the top, and it bounces from pin to pin on its way down the board, eventually landing in one of the bottom slots.

This is a lot like life…stick with me here.

Where we end up in life is determined to a large degree by the daily decisions we make. Some we make unconsciously, and some we do actively. If we think of ourselves as the disc that is dropped down the Plinko board, we hit the first pin and have to decide — left or right. We choose and follow that path until we hit the next pin, when we repeat the decision process. This continues until we stop and look around, and find ourselves in one of the slots at the bottom of the board.

The slots at the bottom can encompass any combination of life situations: you could be rich, famous, and happy, or you could be broke, lonely, and miserable — or anything in between. It's those daily decisions in your relationships, work, family, health, and more that you made at each pin that led you to the place you eventually ended up. These seemingly small decisions along the way can have a compounding impact on your life in the long run.

Many don't see the pegs as decisions, but as random outside influences that impact where we end up. We don't have control over this, or it's simply luck that pushed things in one direction or another. We are helpless bystanders in the process.

What if this could change?

What if we realized we can choose the direction at any given peg, and bounce ourselves towards a life situation we want, rather than one we dropped into by chance? How would we know which direction to go at any given peg? Rather than let random luck choose the outcome, what if we chose ahead of time what slot or circumstance we wanted to end up in? If we had this in mind, would it help us in choosing a direction when we hit a decision peg? Sure it would.

This is where all the writers and coaches start — with goals and outcomes. If we created our ideal situation in our mind and wrote it down for constant reference, it can be our compass whenever we hit a decision peg. Which direction will get us closer to that ideal situation? We may not have a precise answer, but at least we have something more on which to base a decision than pure luck.

Will you end up going closer to your goal? Perhaps. If you don't, you can consider that at the next decision point. A series of small changes can bounce you back on course towards your goal. Each pin is an opportunity to get back on track.

At this point, you may think, well I'm already in a slot — I got here by default. I'm stuck. Let's flip this: Make where you are now the new starting point, and pick a new life circumstance "slot" to drop into. In your mind, move that bottom row from the game up to the top and drop the disc again! If you have chosen ahead of time where you want to go, the decisions at each peg will get easier, and you will progressively make your way to your goal.

What do you think?

Do your small habits or decisions make you or break you? Let me know.