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Why Do You Always Make Bad Decisions?

Mental Shortcuts Can Trip You Up

To make decisions quickly and economically, our brains rely on cognitive shortcuts known as heuristics. Heuristics allow us to make judgments quickly and often accurately, but they can also lead to fuzzy thinking and poor decisions.

To minimize the potential negative impact of heuristics on your decisions, become more aware of them. 

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Why Do You Always Make Bad Decisions?

Why Do You Always Make Bad Decisions?

https://www.verywellmind.com/why-you-make-bad-decisions-2795489

verywellmind.com

4

Key Ideas

Anchoring Bias

A common occurrence of heuristics in which we use an initial starting point as an anchor that is then adjusted to yield a final estimate or value.

Example: estimating the value of an object based on the common price of similar objects.

Being Too Optimistic

People who are told that the risk of something bad happening is lower than they expected, tend to adjust their predictions to match the new information. But they ignore the new information when the risk is higher.

Part of this overly optimistic outlook stems from our natural tendency to believe that bad things happen to other people, but not to us. 

You Often Make Poor Comparisons

Sometimes we make poor comparisons or the compared items are not representative or equal.

We often decide based on rapid comparisons without really thinking about our options. In order to avoid bad decisions, relying on logic and thoughtful examination of the options can sometimes be more important than relying on your immediate "gut reaction."

Mental Shortcuts Can Trip You Up

To make decisions quickly and economically, our brains rely on cognitive shortcuts known as heuristics. Heuristics allow us to make judgments quickly and often accurately, but they can also lead to fuzzy thinking and poor decisions.

To minimize the potential negative impact of heuristics on your decisions, become more aware of them. 

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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.

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Milton Friedman

"The best measure of quality thinking is your ability to accurately predict the consequences of your ideas a..."

Milton Friedman
Think in Years, Not Days

Before jumping to a conclusion, think about the long-term consequences of your decision.

We may respect those able to fling themselves into a hard problem and make a quick choice with seemingly little thought, but making a meaningful decision needs to be done with care for the long-term effects.

Understand Decision Fatigue

It’s important to be aware of what state of mind you’re in before tackling a hard choice.

Decision fatigue happens when the mental energy required to weigh the tradeoffs of our decision becomes too much for us to handle. 

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Emotions lead to feelings

Being aware of the constant dance between emotions and feelings could improve your decision-making ability.

  1. Every feeling begins with a stimulus.
  2. The stimulus leads...
Focus on the resulting feeling

We need to understand how any particular emotion (root cause) will translate into a feeling (symptom).

The six emotions are broad categories, while the feelings are specific to describe what is going on in our bodies. For instance, disgust (emotion) may result in 'loathing' or 'detestable' feelings.

When you have to make a decision, always track your feeling to the resulting emotion to find the root cause.

Develop a working awareness
  1. Name what you are deciding.
  2. Name all the feelings you are experiencing in connection with the decision.
  3. Identify the root cause of the feelings you are experiencing in connection with your decision.
  4. Identify the emotions connected to these feelings.
  5. Process the emotion.
  6. Consider if you want to make a decision from this emotion or change course.
2,000 decisions per waking hour

Research has shown that the typical person makes about 2,000 decisions every waking hour. Most are minor ones and we make them automatically. But many have serious consequences.

That's why...

Decision fatigue

Our ability to perform mental tasks and make decisions wears thin when it’s repeatedly used.

Identify the most important decisions you need to make, and, as often as possible, prioritize your time so that you make them when your energy levels are highest.

A steady state of distraction

Our brains process five times as much information today as in 1986. Thus, many of us live in a continuous state of distraction and struggle to focus. 

To counter this, find time each day to unplug and step back from email, social media and news.

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Decision making and biases

Experts have known for a while that ...

Mental time travel

A common decision-making problem is failing to have enough imagination with regards to what could go wrong or falling victim to simple overconfidence. 

Envision the future. There’s evidence that this exercise can broaden your outlook and highlight problems that might not come to mind otherwise.

Don’t make an important decision

... when you're hungry, or sleepy, or angry.

Research has shown that our susceptibility to bias increases when we’re stressed, whether because of exhaustion, hunger, or a heightened emotional state.

Delaying a crucial decision, if possible, might be preferable to making it under conditions of stress.

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Turn Small Decisions Into Routines

Decision-making works like a muscle: as you use it over the course of the day, it gets too exhausted to function effectively.

One way to avoid this is to eliminate smaller decisions by t...

Make Big Decisions In The Morning

Save small decisions for after work (when decision fatigue kicks in) and to tackle complex decisions in the morning, when your mind is fresh

A similar strategy is to do some of the smaller things the night before to get a head start on the next day.

Pay Attention To Your Emotions

...and you'll able to look at decisions as objectively and rationally as possible.

Strong decision-makers know that a bad mood can make them lash out or stray from their moral compass just as easily as a good mood can make them overconfident and impulsive.

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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.
Do some math

You make one decision, wait, make a second decision, and then make a compromise between the two.

Averaging the two judgments tends to outperform trying to identify the better of the tw...

Pair a good decision with a bad one

If you only allow yourself your vice while you’re simultaneously being virtuous,  you’ll spend more time doing things that are good for you and less time doing the “bad” things. 

The researchers call this “pre-bundling” and say it allows people to couple instantly gratifying activities (such as watching trashy TV) with a behavior that’s beneficial in the long term but requires willpower (like working out).

Take things one at a time

Next time you’re faced with a problem with many possible answers, pinpoint your end goals and then come up with a solution for each.

This is likely to lead to the generation of a diverse set of options covering multiple categories of solutions.

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...
Survivorship bias refers to our tendency to focus on the winners while completely forgetting about the losers who are employing the same strategy.


Loss aversion refers to our tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains.

Loss aversion refers to our tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains.

Availability Heuristic appears when we assume that the examples coming to mind easily are the most prevalent.

Availability Heuristic appears when we assume that the examples coming to mind easily are the most prevalent.

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