Something that comes up fairly often is the question of whether to learn something new, or try to master the basics. For a year, I tried not to add a single new convention, a decision that came on the heels of realizing that I had no idea what many basic bids meant. Sadly this still comes up. Sometimes in a perfectly normal auction I'll draw a blank. Its scary.
Many of my friends who are much better players than I tell me, "Don't worry about that now, Deb. First get a better grasp on standard." And I acknowledge that they've got a very valid point.
On the other hand, much of what I encounter at the table is not standard. It's nice to know what's going on. It's nice to feel that you're clued in. And of course knowing how the super-sonic forcing pass of death work, doesn't mean you have to play it. Sometimes it's just nice to know what it is.
What was standard yesterday becomes less standard tomorrow. Just today someone said. "No one plays Bergen anymore." Which is an exaggeration, but there's something there.
Is the examination of various options just a distraction at this point, or does it give a beginning player a better handle on what's going on? Can it hurt to think about new ideas?