How to make a difficult decision | Psyche Guides - Deepstash

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How to make a difficult decision | Psyche Guides

How to make a difficult decision | Psyche Guides


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The Difficulty In Decision Making

Ultimately, what defines a hard decision isn’t so much the decision itself, but how it is perceived by the decision-maker. You might feel that a decision is hard because:

  • the stakes, for you, are particularly high;
  • two or more options weigh the same in your mind; or

The etymology of the word ‘decision’ provides important insight. It comes from the Latin word caedere meaning ‘to cut off’.

Decisions cut us off from other choices, other opportunities and the possibility of better outcomes. For this reason, the act of deciding ca...

Avoiding A Decision Is A Decision

When faced with a difficult decision, it can be tempting to take the easy road and procrastinate. This attitude illustrates what might be the greatest myth about decision-making: that, faced with two choices, we still have the option to not decide and to do nothing.

In fact, procra...

  • In the short term, people experience more regret from ‘errors of commission’ (taking an action that leads to a disappointing outcome).
  • In the long term it is actually ‘errors of omission’ that lead to more regret –...


When facing difficult decisions, it is likely that different parts of you might want different things.

When deciding whether to book a pricey holiday, one part of you (prudent) might think that this expense is unreasonable, while another part of you (hedonistic) prefers to make the mos...

The more you struggle with difficult decisions, the less distance from them you enjoy and the more bogged down you can become.

And yet, psychological distance provides a sense of perspective that is a key component of effective decision-making.

Creating Psychological Distance

In the 16th century, the Spanish priest and theologian Ignatius of Loyola suggested three ways you can achieve more psychological distance from a difficult decision:

  • by letting go of your preferred option momentarily, to consider all options objectively (lat...

Even the world’s most famous investor, Warren Buffett, credits some of his best decision-making to a method known as the 10/10/10, meaning: how will I feel about today’s decision in 10 days’ time, vs 10 months, vs 10 years?

Here again, it is about creating more distance between y...

Thinking Outside The Box

How can you think outside the box and see that other elusive option?

  • One way is to adopt a childlike mindset. As children go through school education, grow up and learn to function as productive adults, one thing they tend to lose is their creative confidence, this p...

Objectives are the ultimate goals that a decision aims to achieve.

It is important to list your objectives and cross-check how many of them would be satisfied by each decision. Research has shown that our decisions frequently suffer from having too narrow a range of objectives (perhap...

Use a Weighting System to Compare Multiple Options

By methodically assessing your options against a comprehensive set of objectives, it is possible that one option will emerge as the obvious decision to take. In many instances, though, more work will be needed.

One can consider each of your options separately, listing the ...

  • First, what are the objectives behind your decision?
  • Next, what weight (from 0-100 per cent) would you assign to each objective: ie, how important is this objective to you?
  • Now, turning to each option available to you, what mark (between 1 and 10) would you give it to fulfil ...

Listen to Your Emotions

Any systematic weighting exercise requires you to assign scores and probabilities in a way that isn’t entirely scientific and that relies on an element of ‘gut feeling’.

However, this isn’t a weakness of these approaches, as tapping into the emotional part of your psyche i...

A practical approach is to write about each option (half a page each time on a separate sheet), and explore how you feel while writing; also, how you feel about each sheet in front of you. If you throw them into the wastepaper bin one by one until one remains, what are the emotions and feelin...

Use Micro-Decisions to Overcome Inertia

Having selected your best option, you need to act upon it. This is what trips up many people. They find it hard – sometimes even impossible – to get started. One way out of such a dilemma is to break down your big decision into a series of micro-decisions.

This is only the...

The Way Pressure Affects Decision Making

Making decisions under pressure can blur people’s judgment in at least three ways:

  • Under stress, we tend to behave as if we are under time pressure even when we’re not. We often have more time than we think.
  • Pressure leads people to ...

Establish whether your team is working towards the same objectives and ask the following key questions:

  • What do you think will happen if you do, or do not, match your competitor’s offer?
  • If you did decide to match the other offer, what would be the implications for your company...

  • Why are we taking this decision?
  • What do we think will happen if we do?
  • Is the benefit of taking this decision proportional to the risk?
  • Do we have a common understanding and position on the situation? In the case of a firefighting mission, this would mean ensuring th...

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created 7 ideas

Every decision has two options, try something new (explore) or stick to the normal (exploit). So it becomes important when to explore and when to exploit. So here's the content that guide's you through this decision making and make your life more simple....



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