Mental Shortcuts Can Trip You Up - Deepstash

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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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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 gaining, success, and acceptance.

We forget that there are always two sides of the coin and loss, failure and rejection come hand in hand whether we like it or not.

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.

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 rewards.
  3. Sleeping or working on something else let’s you unconsciously work on complex problems.
  4. Consider options in a foreign language and look at them as if you were somebody else.
  5. Treat yourself for making a choice that benefits you more long-term instead.
  6. When making choices about the future, we tend to assume that how we feel now is how we’ll feel forever. 
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.
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.