Almost everyone I know (including me) wait until the last-minute to do their taxes and file them just before the deadline. What are the forces that tend to steer people towards this behavior?
I would like to propose a simple framework that many people use to make their choices, without any analytical reasoning. It is called the PIG and the APE method of decision-making.
Our innate drives, the PIG = Pursue Instant Gratification and the APE = Avoid Painful Experiences, take control of most of our unconscious decisions and guide us towards pleasure and away from pain.
The term “Tax” is perceived by the majority of people as a negative word, whether or not they will receive a refund or whether they owe more on tax day. This tends to make us not deal with it until some day beyond which not dealing with it will cause even more pain, such as penalties or fines.
At the same time, we can find more pleasurable or less painful things to focus our attention and move away from doing the taxes. These are often labeled as distractions. Distractions are nothing but less painful or more pleasurable options to what we perceive as painful experiences.
Just becoming aware of this pattern of making choices can enable you to evolve to a higher level in your decision-making.