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Making Smart(er) Decisions And Avoiding Bad Ones

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Making Smart(er) Decisions And Avoiding Bad Ones
I was two weeks into my job at an intelligence agency on September 11, 2001 when the world suddenly changed. The job I had been hired to do disappeared. I had a computer science degree; I came from a world of 1s and 0s, not people, families, and interpersonal dynamics.

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Mental models

They are chunks of knowledge that can be simplified and applied to better understand the world, by identify what information is relevant in any given situation, and th...

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Reasons we fail to make the best decision possible

  • We’re (sometimes) stupid: irrational, tired or distracted;
  • We have the wrong information;
  • We use the wrong model;
  • We fail to learn;
  • We go with what's easy over ...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

You are the sum of your decisions

A few major decisions determine a good portion of how our lives, careers, and relationships turn out. The outcomes of these decision points will reverberate for years.

Even smal...

Why We Make Poor Decisions

  • We’re not as rational as we think. 
  • We’re not prepared. We don’t understand the invariant ideas — the mental models — of how the world really works. 
  • We don’t gather the information we need. We make decisions based on our “guts” in complex domains that require serious work to gather all the needed data. 

The World Is Multidisciplinary

We live in a society that demands specialization. Being the best means being an expert in something.  A byproduct of this niche focus is that it narrows the ways we think we can apply our knowledge without being called a fraud.

We should apply all the knowledge at our disposal to the problems and challenges we face every day.

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Overlooking Failure

Societies with a bias towards success, that are idolizing of successful people usually overlook the decisions that led to failure.

We tend to overlook cases that did not come with a successfu...

Mental Models

The way you look at how something works in the real world is called a mental model. It’s your thinking framework about something.

But when we make decisions, we often don’t think about our framework and immediately jump to a discussion about potential outcomes.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Everything seems stupid when it fails.”

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Mind The Limitations Of Your Brain

Mind The Limitations Of Your Brain
  1. Decide important things early in the day, else decision fatigue sets in.
  2. Have snacks to keep your glucose high, else your brain will respond more strongly to immediate re...

Listen To Your Body

As reaction to panic or stress the body pumps adrenaline, making you breath faster and certain parts of the body feel tight, that makes us prone to often incorrect snap judgments. When having that kind of response, close your eyes, take a few breaths, and take some time to consider your next action.

That buys you time to physically calm down enough to make a more considered choice. 

Other Tips For Better Choices

  1. Be skeptic, meditate, learn from previous mistakes, know what the data and it’s context means, and trust your informed judgment.
  2. Focus on the quality of information you’re getting, not the quantity.
  3. Set a time limit for yourself, and ensure you’re not using your decision-making angst as a procrastination device.
  4. If you see that you prefer familiar and easier choices, ensure they aren’t being reframed to support something you wish was true.
  5. Crisp, clear decisions may seem like the best kind of decisions, but they may cost you time and extra effort when often the details may not even matter.
  6. Forcing yourself to choose may lead to you making high-risk decisions and ignoring alternatives.
  7. Imagine the effort you’re considering was a fantastic success, and then that it was an unequivocal disaster. Then, analyze the reasons for both to find blind spots, dampen excessive optimism, and bridge the gap between short-term and long-term thinking.