How to Make Difficult Decisions
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"The best measure of quality thinking is your ability to accurately predict the consequences of your ideas and subsequent actions."
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.
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.
Perhaps the easiest way to make sure we can face a hard decision with our full attention is to simply make fewer decisions.
Think of people like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama, who limit their wardrobe choices to a few staple pieces, in order to save mental energy for important decisions.
You might think you need as much information as possible before you’re able to make a choice, but too much research can hurt as much as it helps.
Gathering too much data and asking for too many opinions can lead to mental overload, analysis paralysis, and ultimately making the wrong choice.
The power of the outsider comes from escaping the cognitive biases we all fall victim to.
Psychologists call this phenomenon Counterfactual Thinking and it describes how we dwell on the outcomes of actions we didn’t actually take.
At a certain point, you need to trust you’ve put in the thought and work to make the right decision and just commit.
"The bottom line of decision making involves determining which potential decision will offer the best possible outcome based on what we know now."
SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:
Nudging involves gently coaxing someone into a decision or behavior. The successful nudge is one that results in the desired choice or behavior without the person realizing any external influenc...
The mind seems to involve various simple systems throughout the body that are not always in agreement. Some systems are shortsighted, some care about relationships, and some prioritize the future of humanity.
We are not always aware of each mechanism. Sometimes we make decisions carefully and other times intuitively.
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90% of your daily decisions happen automatically, many shaped by your environment. Thus, most decisions are a habit, not a deliberate choice.
To make smarter choices, design smarter...
Design your life like a choice architect:
“First, never underestimate the power of inertia. Second, that power can be harnessed.”
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When you consider your decisions, are you motivated by desire or fear?
When you consider making a decision, who do you turn to?
What drives you in your work?
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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...
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.
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.
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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 yo...
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.
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.
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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 o...
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.
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."
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When faced with a difficult dilemma, we should carefully assess our options and spend a few moments consciously deliberating the information. Then, we should choose the best fit for our preferences...
This would suggest that the unconscious is better suited for difficult cognitive tasks than the conscious brain, that the very thought process we've long disregarded as irrational and impulsive might actually be "smarter" than reasoned deliberation.
Thinking in a rational manner is more effective when there are limited pieces of information. However, those focused on feelings prove far better in complex conditions.
The advantages of emotional decision-making could be undone by a subsequent bout of deliberation, which suggests that we shouldn't doubt a particularly strong instinct, at least when considering lots of information.
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When we are in a stressful situation, we are prone to make poor choices.
Even a little stress can influence our decisions and make us slip up.
Don't let stress motivate your decisions. When you're feeling the most stress, you'll also feel the biggest urge to make a poor choice.
If you do make a decision while you are under stress, ensure to re-evaluate it when you are calm.
When you're under regular stress, you'll never get a chance to make good, rational choices.
If you set aside 30 minutes each day to relax, you will be in a better state to make smart choices.
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Our working memory is what allows us to focus on the information we need to get things done at the moment we’re doing them. It is also in limited supply. You can think of it like our brain’s computer memory. Once it’s used up, nothing more can fit in.
When you overanalyze a situation, the repetitive thoughts, anxiety, and self-doubt decrease the amount of working memory you have available to complete challenging tasks, causing your productivity to plummet.
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Having clear values that you try to live by can make tough decisions easier.
For example, maybe you know there’s a certain amount of time you want to spend with your family, or a baseline level of debt you’re willing to carry.
You don’t need to speak with someone who’s knowledgeable on the topic.
You just need a good listener who’ll give you time and space to hear out your monologue and occasionally reflect back to you what you’ve shared.
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