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In the 16th century, the Spanish priest and theologian Ignatius of Loyola suggested three ways you can achieve more psychological distance from a difficult decision:
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A practical approach is to write about each option (half a page each time on a separate sheet), and explore how you feel while writing; also, how you feel about each sheet in front of you. If you throw them into the wastepaper bin one by one until one remains, what are the emotions and feelin...
By methodically assessing your options against a comprehensive set of objectives, it is possible that one option will emerge as the obvious decision to take. In many instances, though, more work will be needed.
One can consider each of your options separately, listing the ...
Any systematic weighting exercise requires you to assign scores and probabilities in a way that isn’t entirely scientific and that relies on an element of ‘gut feeling’.
However, this isn’t a weakness of these approaches, as tapping into the emotional part of your psyche i...
Having selected your best option, you need to act upon it. This is what trips up many people. They find it hard – sometimes even impossible – to get started. One way out of such a dilemma is to break down your big decision into a series of micro-decisions.
This is only the...
How can you think outside the box and see that other elusive option?
Ultimately, what defines a hard decision isn’t so much the decision itself, but how it is perceived by the decision-maker. You might feel that a decision is hard because:
When facing difficult decisions, it is likely that different parts of you might want different things.
When deciding whether to book a pricey holiday, one part of you (prudent) might think that this expense is unreasonable, while another part of you (hedonistic) prefers to make the mos...
Establish whether your team is working towards the same objectives and ask the following key questions:
When faced with a difficult decision, it can be tempting to take the easy road and procrastinate. This attitude illustrates what might be the greatest myth about decision-making: that, faced with two choices, we still have the option to not decide and to do nothing.
In fact, procra...
Even the world’s most famous investor, Warren Buffett, credits some of his best decision-making to a method known as the 10/10/10, meaning: how will I feel about today’s decision in 10 days’ time, vs 10 months, vs 10 years?
Here again, it is about creating more distance between y...
The etymology of the word ‘decision’ provides important insight. It comes from the Latin word caedere meaning ‘to cut off’.
Decisions cut us off from other choices, other opportunities and the possibility of better outcomes. For this reason, the act of deciding ca...
The more you struggle with difficult decisions, the less distance from them you enjoy and the more bogged down you can become.
And yet, psychological distance provides a sense of perspective that is a key component of effective decision-making.
Objectives are the ultimate goals that a decision aims to achieve.
It is important to list your objectives and cross-check how many of them would be satisfied by each decision. Research has shown that our decisions frequently suffer from having too narrow a range of objectives (perhap...
Making decisions under pressure can blur people’s judgment in at least three ways:
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