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Why It’s Hard to Make Decisions (Especially Good, Fast Ones) - Effectiviology

https://effectiviology.com/why-its-hard-to-make-decisions/

effectiviology.com

Why It’s Hard to Make Decisions (Especially Good, Fast Ones) - Effectiviology

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Good decisions

Good decisions

To make good decisions, we generally need to do the following:

  • Identify the decision: recognizing the need to make a decision, and identifying what that decision involves.
  • Set our goals: establishing what we want to achieve with the decision and how important each goal is to us.
  • Gather data: collecting the necessary information to make a decision.
  • Identify options: researching the options that are available to us.
  • Assess the options: identifying the pros and cons of the available options.
  • Select the preferred option: Rating options based on their pros and cons, and choosing the one that’s best for us.

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Why people struggle with decision making

  • The main reason why decision-making is hard is that every decision makes us go through a process that is most times difficult and complex, and having difficulties with any part of it can hinder the whole process.
  • The emotional difficulty that we face when we need to pick only one of multiple possible options means that we have to forego several alternatives that we may find appealing. This is associated with the concept of FOMO (the fear of missing out).
  • The decision-making process can be very demanding, from a cognitive and an emotional perspective. Also, the act of making a decision is tiring in itself, since it depletes the cognitive resources.
  • Being tired and sleep-deprived can make it more difficult for us to process information, and more likely for us to suffer from various cognitive biases that get in the way of making good decisions.

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Barry Schwartz

“The existence of multiple alternatives makes it easy for us to imagine alternatives that don’t exist—alternatives that combine the attractive features of the ones that do exist. And to the extent that we engage our imaginations in this way, we will be even less satisfied with the alternative we end up choosing. So… a greater variety of choices actually makes us feel worse.”

Barry Schwartz

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Factors that make it harder to decide

  • Complexity: the more complex a certain decision is, the harder it is to choose. A common reason for added complexity in decision-making is that there is a large number of options to choose from.
  • Uncertainty: the more uncertainty is involved with a decision, the harder it is to choose. A common form of uncertainty in decision-making is not knowing what possible outcomes your different options can lead to.
  • Consequences: the more serious the consequences are for a certain decision, the harder it is to choose. A common serious consequence in decision-making is missing out on a unique opportunity by choosing to follow an alternative path.

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Some people are naturally more indecisive than others

There are a few personality traits that are found in indecisive individuals:

  • Neuroticism: the tendency to be prone to negative emotions and psychological stress is strongly correlated with indecisiveness, as is perfectionism.
  • Indecisiveness is associated with the tendency to interpret ambiguous situations as threatening, and to engage in worst-case reasoning.
  • Indecisiveness is also related to procrastination, and particularly with a type of procrastination called decisional procrastination - unnecessarily delaying when it comes to making decisions.

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The role of intuition in decision-making

When making decisions, using your intuition is not essentially good or bad; this depends on multiple factors, such as the circumstances at hand and the way you use your intuition.

While you should be willing to use your intuition where necessary, you should assess the situation first, and make sure that using intuition is the best option for you, and that when you do use it, you do so in a proper manner.

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Emotions and decision-making

Our emotions can makes us act in an irrational way and make bad decisions. But don't ignore your emotions entirely; they are not necessarily the cause of our bad decisions.

You should take your emotions into account in a rational way, without giving them the power to prevent you from conducting a proper decision-making process.

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Get better at making decisions

  • Be aware of the cognitive biases that might influence your thinking, and then use debiasing techniques to reduce those biases (imagining you're you’re giving advice to a friend, for example)
  • You can rely on your intuition when it’s appropriate to do so in quick decision making, but make sure to limit the amount of information you take in, embrace the concept of good enough, and identify the cost of delaying.
  • For hard decisions, when you’re struggling to choose, you can focus on the concrete facts, eliminate weak options, look at secondary factors, and visualize the future outcomes of choosing different options.

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Types of indecisiveness

  • Exploratory indecisiveness: a long and drawn-out struggle to make decisions, even after all the options have been explored thoroughly.
  • Impetuous indecisiveness: quickly making decisions but constantly also changing one’s mind about them.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Why we are not decisive

Why we are not decisive

The main cause of our trouble with being decisive comes down to this process: cultural conditioning +negative habits.

There are persons that start life fro...

Learning to be more decisive

This comes down to pinpointing and getting rid of the habits that increase indecisiveness.

If you feel you struggle to be decisive it's because you've developed habits that increase your lack of confidence when it comes to decision-making.

Uncertainty is a key feature of decision-making

Recognize and accept the fact that you will not be able to control and solve all uncertainty and that you don’t need to. You will be anxious about that, but it's normal.

This will make it much easier for you to simply make a decision and move on.

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The costs of indecisiveness

  • Not taking action can cost you an opportunity, or cost money and time as you delay.
  • People waiting for you to make a decision can get frustrated.
  • You can feel stress about your...

How we deal with uncertainty

These are some of the common ways we habitually deal with the uncertainty of a decision. But none of them solve the problem for us:

  • Doing some research. 
  • Writing out a pros and cons list.
  • Asking a bunch of people about their opinion.
  • Putting off the decision.

We are uncertain about

  • What the best choice might be.
  • Whether there will be negative consequences of the choice.
  • Whether we’ll look dumb to others if we make the wrong choice.
  • Whether we’ll feel dumb, or ripped off, and regret it for years to come.
  • Whether we’ll be OK if we make the wrong choice.

Every Decision In Life Becomes a Trade-Off

Every Decision In Life Becomes a Trade-Off

... and boils down to what we give up to attain something. Our mindsets are inclined towards pleasure and resistive towards pain. We normally like to think in terms of gai...

Good and Bad Decisions

Decisions are a cost-benefit analysis of risking something small for the opportunity to gain something big.

  • Good decisions can be: Exercising, meditating for 10 minutes daily, finding the courage and striking up a conversation with someone, applying for jobs that you may or may not get.
  • Bad decisions can be: lying or pretending to someone, driving unsafely, sending angry text messages, or staying up late drinking before an important meeting or exam in the morning.

Trade-offs and Life Values

Trade-offs are not something as simple as flipping a coin. Our values guide us towards what we want in life, and it is not the same for all. Example: Buying a house has a trade-off of mortgage for the next ten or more years. This is subjective and depends on what we value in life.

Indecisive people suffer because they don’t know their inner values and what they care about.