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What a 16th-century mystic can teach us about making good decisions

http://theconversation.com/what-a-16th-century-mystic-can-teach-us-about-making-good-decisions-109705

theconversation.com

What a 16th-century mystic can teach us about making good decisions
Decision-making is a complex process. As individuals, working through our daily lives, we often take a number of shortcuts that may not always serve us well. For example, we make impulsive decisions when stressed or allow others to make them for us, at times with disappointing or disastrous consequences.

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Making Decisions

People usually make impulsive decisions and take shortcuts while stressed out. A 16th-century Catholic mystic, Ignatius, provides us with some methods of discernment and decision-making, which are still relevant today.

  • Relying on Reason and Feelings: It’s important to use your logic and reasoning while also factoring in the feelings(head and heart both).
  • Imaginative Reflection: Taking on a problem with different imaginative twists, like what would we do if we were dying, or if we were conversing with God or someone we trust, leads to clarity and perspective.
  • Check Our Emotions: If the decision provides us with peace, freedom, joy, love or compassion, then it is the right one.

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Not Making Good Decisions

We are exposed to biases that influence our ability to make good decisions.
  • We are quick to jump to conclusions because we fail to search for information that might disprove our thoughts.

The Four Villains of Decision Making

  • Narrow framing: The tendency to define our choices in binary terms. We ask, "should I, or shouldn't I?" instead of “What are the ways I could...?”
  • Confirmation bias: People tend to select the information that supports their preexisting attitudes, beliefs, and actions. 
  • Short-term emotion: When we’ve got a difficult decision to make, our feelings occupy our minds. And this doesn't add any new information that could benefit us. 
  • Overconfidence: People often think they know more than they actually do about how the future will unfold.

Defeating Decision-Making Villains

  • Counter narrow framing by widening your options. Expand your set of choices.
  • Confirmation bias leads you to gather self-serving information. Analyze and test your assumptions to overcome the bias.
  • Short-term emotion will tempt you to make the wrong choice. So distance yourself before deciding.
  • Prepare to be wrong. Don't be overconfident about how the future will unfold.

Our emotions are short-term biased

Our emotions are obsessed with the present moment because it’s difficult to look past our immediate fears and anxieties. And this prevents good decision-making.

The sweet spot in de...

“Risky” behavior you should consider

  • Propose “moonshot” ideas, knowing that 90% of them will get shot down, but that if one of them gets accepted, it will be a huge boost to your career.
  • Be excessively bold in your dating life, stating exactly who and what you want.
  • Buy difficult books expecting that most of them won’t be useful to you, but also that, occasionally, one will completely change your life.
  • Say yes to every invitation knowing that most of the events/people will be boring, but that occasionally you’ll meet someone really interesting.

Optimizing life for fewer regrets

Most of us are afraid of messing thing up. But we rarely ask, “Would I regret that failure?” If the answer is “no,” then that is absolutely a risk you should pursue.

Sometimes, the right decision becomes crystal clear when put into these terms.

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A checklist for faster, better decisions

  • Write down 3 existing company goals impacted by the decision;
  • Write down at least 3 realistic alternatives;
  • Write down the most important information you...