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Four Tricks to Help You Make Any Difficult Decision

The Mental Backflip

  • List all your assumptions about your subject.
  • Reverse each assumption. Consider their opposites.
  • Ask yourself how to accomplish each reversal.

The end result is a new viewpoint you might not have considered otherwise. 

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Four Tricks to Help You Make Any Difficult Decision

Four Tricks to Help You Make Any Difficult Decision

https://lifehacker.com/four-tricks-to-help-you-make-any-difficult-decision-987762341

lifehacker.com

4

Key Ideas

Pretend You're Advising a Friend

Think outside yourself a little and pretend like you're offering advice. 

The reasoning here is really simple: your short-term emotions get in the way of decisions, and that clouds your judgment. It's hard to break free of your emotions, but it helps to know they affect your choices.

Limit The Information You Take In

We usually believe that the more information you have, the better decisions we can make. However, at some point, we cross a threshold where we have too much information. That's when we start to fill in gaps and add weight to information that doesn't matter. 

This makes decision making way more difficult.

Reverse Your Assumptions

You're so prone to continue making the same kind of choices throughout your life that challenging yourself and doing the exact opposite is often the best way to get around this problem. 

The idea here is to confront your default behavior, step outside your comfort zone, and use your imagination to test some completely new ideas.

The Mental Backflip

  • List all your assumptions about your subject.
  • Reverse each assumption. Consider their opposites.
  • Ask yourself how to accomplish each reversal.

The end result is a new viewpoint you might not have considered otherwise. 

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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.
Default options

Deciding is too much effort so we’re likely to just stick with the default or safer option if it’s already been chosen for us. 

When we get offered too many choices, the same...

Best decision making happens in the morning

This is when serotonin is at it’s natural high, which helps to calm our brain. Thus, we feel less risk averse and so we can face risks and make harder choices.

The part our bodies play in decision-making

If we’re feeling hunger, thirst or sexual desire, that can actually spill over into the decision areas of our brains, making us feel more desire for big rewards when we make choices. 

This can lead us to make higher-risk choices and to want for more.

one more idea

Overthinking

It  means overanalyzing something that happened, regretting an action, or worrying about the future of something. 

It's when you can't think about anything else, and it'...

Overthinking and action

If you're overthinking an idea you can actually do something about, the best thing you can do is take action now.

This doesn't mean you have to suddenly run off to make something, it just means you start taking a step forward. We tend to overthink because we fear failure, but if we just start working, that dissipates quickly

Break the circle of overthinking:
  • Relabel the ideas you're overthinking ("self-doubt," "anxiety," etc)
  • Reframe your experience and identify your thinking errors
  • Refocus your attention on the part that matters
  • Revalue your brain's messages with the new information
3 decision-making mistakes that you must avoid
  1. Impulsivity. Thorough decisions combine all three senses – seeing, hearing and feeling. Impulsive decisions always lack one of these elements.
  2. Allowing yourself to be pe...
Decide What You Want

Waiting around often means you’re not happy with any of the options, because they’re not right for who you are. So, when you find yourself stuck between possibilities, think about what you rea...

Being “Supposed To" Choose Something

If you’re feeling pressured into making the decision that looks good, step back and examine your reasoning.

If you can’t come up with a good answer, you know it’s not for you.

Do Something

Remember that doing something trumps doing nothing.

For example, instead of being afraid of choosing the wrong job and suffering through the same job you have been hating for years, imagine taking a job that is not the ideal, but giving your all and building on it. This will help you advance, lead projects and develop your skills and resume. You'll be more at ease to change jobs at that point.

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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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Accept your emotions

Recognize what happened and how you feel. Suppressing your emotions will get you nowhere. It’s important to first focus on how you feel.

You can also journal your emotions or speak with a clo...

Focus on the facts

Take a step out of the emotions and stress to really look at the facts of the situation. Try to look at the situation objectively and seek ways to work productively toward solving it.

Get an outside perspective, if you struggle with getting the facts in an objective manner.

Don't let it consume you

Once we’ve made what we’d call a bad decision, we give it a lot of meaning it does not inherently have.

So try to mentally separate yourself from the decision. Doing so can help you strip it of its power.

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Decision-making rules

Write a clear, objective set of rules to guide future decisions.

It will enable you to make a decision that is detached from the emotion of the moment.

Don't decide alone

Never make an onerous decision by yourself. Tap into the wisdom of the company's internal crowd.

The 'revolving door' approach

... is a technique that relies on using an outside perspective. 

If you're stuck in a big decision, you have to pretend you're a new CEO or a turnaround manager who can "see things more clearly." Adopting a third-person perspective helps you tap into an objective mode of judgment--one based on facts and an understanding of the consequences.

Making decisions
Making decisions

Decision making is critical for entrepreneurs. Every day, you have to set out on a course of action, choose tactics, evaluate results, and otherwise choose from arrays of options.

4 common mistakes that can trip you up
  1. Monumentalizing the Trivial. Place a limit on how long you're willing to spend addressing the issue. When the time ends, make your choice and move on.
  2. Dredging Sunk Costs. Estimate how much the decision would take in total to follow through. If the cost is higher than the benefit, change your decision.
  3. Drowning in Data. Identify less than 10 pieces of relevant data that will have a strong impact on your decision's outcome. Then forget everything else.
  4. Do-or-Die Mentality. Realize that every decision is temporary. Use an overall decision-making strategy that stretches over time, not that imagines each moment to be the most critical one for the business.
Decision fatigue

As you make more decisions (especially difficult ones), and as you consider more options, you start to get mentally tired making your subsequent decisions worse and more difficult.

Fewer options and decision making

We assume more options will make us happier, but that's not true.

By strategically decreasing the number of decisions we need to make we're making sure we actually choose something, and we can save our decisiveness for when it really counts.

Rules

A rule is a predetermined response to a given situation, a set action for how you’ll handle a common situation so that you don’t waste any time trying to decide between two or more small and unimportant options.

Examples: "I Never answer calls from unrecognized numbers" or "I don’t check email before 10 am, after 7 pm, or on Saturday."

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