How to say that I'm not doing something out of a valid reason?

For example:

When I elected a course because my friends did. OR
When I invested in a stock because its symbol sounded like my name.

How should I describe such situation where I make a decision that's not based on solid reasoning, but rather some trivial information?

  • Perhaps you used your intuition? – Lucian Sava May 19 '14 at 6:54
  • To me, these are not intuitive choices because they are based on trivial information or whimsy. Intuition is knowing something to be true without knowing how one knows it. Intuition of a subject field (such as street smarts, people, business, animals, mathematical proofs) can be created through experience. ("I can tell he's lying." | "How?" | "I don't know, but I can tell.") Others may attribute intuition to unknown capabilities of mind, but I don't think the above examples would neatly fit into most people's idea of intuition. – CoolHandLouis May 22 '14 at 4:35

Lots of good answers so far, but somehow nobody's mentioned the great terms whim, whimsy and whimsical which seem to me to closest fit your examples. Picking a stock because its symbol sounded like one's name is a great example of whimsy, a totally whimsical thing to do, something one did on a whim.

Unlike all the terms mentioned so far, there's no negative connotation to whimsy and whimsical. Whim can have a negative connotation, but doesn't necessarily.

The aforementioned capricious is also good, but perhaps more pertinent is caprice, "a sudden and unaccountable change of mood or behavior" which has less negative connotation than capricious (which can go either way). If the mood aspect is applicable, you may also want to check out mecurial which, before it became an SCC meant in thrall to one's mood of the moment.

Addendum: Also in a similar vein: the idioms on a lark, for a lark, for kicks, and for kicks and giggles.

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  • A common, though somewhat vulgar, variation of your last suggestion would be "for shits and giggles" – evan May 22 '14 at 4:06

I am going to write an answer here, just for the heck of it.

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  • +1 for showing, telling, and being funny all at the same time. – CoolHandLouis May 19 '14 at 19:56
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    Note that this is quite informal. – Esoteric Screen Name May 20 '14 at 2:18
  • @EsotericScreenName Good point. I consider this an informal forum, however you would not say this to your parents, boss, or in any formal situation. – user3169 May 20 '14 at 2:25
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    Just for fun, I'm going to make a comment here. – CoolHandLouis May 22 '14 at 3:46

Here are some definitional one-liners, psychology, and prose-style description:

  • My decision to X was arbitrary.
  • My decision to X was irrational.
  • My decision to X was impulsive.

  • In psychology, it can depend on the reason for making the decision. If it just "seemed like a good idea" that might be referred to as impulsive decisions. If one makes decisions based on irrational connections and connotations, that could be a sign of schizophrenia.

  • Prose: I wanted to go to University X, but my friend suggested I go to University Y so we could be roommates, so that's what I did. In hindsight, I did not have any judgement. I floated wherever the wind would blow. I was very suggestible, and I've made many decisions impulsively and capriciously.

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  • I would add that hereabouts, the precise expression "it seemed like a good idea at the time" has come to be an self-deprecating idiom meaning, basically, "I had no real justification whatsoever." – Codeswitcher May 20 '14 at 0:49
  • @Codeswitcher, Thanks! I just want to clarify what you're saying here. Good point on it being idiomatic. Like "Why did you do [some very stupid thing]" / "I dunno.. seemed like a good idea at the time." In this case, it means one made a bad judgement. The reason they did the thing was actually because perhaps it did seem like a good idea, or perhaps they didn't even think about it much. – CoolHandLouis May 20 '14 at 2:08
  • Exactly. Might be accompanied by a wry smile, a sheepish look, and/or a shrug. – Codeswitcher May 20 '14 at 2:10

There are many ways you could convey this. I'm writing what I generally use.

I joined the course simply because my friends did.
I invested in a stock simply because its symbol sounded like my name.

I could not find the exact meaning of simply in a dictionary the way I used it here but I'm pretty sure that adding simply to these sentences in such contexts means "for no solid reason and simply - just like that".

Note that for all your decisions there in the sentences, there might not be valid reasons but certainly, there are reasons (your friends and the symbol respectively! :)

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    @AlexSu (the OP), in the case that you like this answer (which could work too, though I think you're looking for something else), these words can be used as well as simply (because): just, only, and merely. – Damkerng T. May 19 '14 at 19:39

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