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3 Reasons Why You Make Terrible Decisions (And How to Stop)

Our Emotions Hijack Our Objectivity

Humans are not good at impartially evaluating the risks and rewards of any decision.

Our ‘thinking’ brain loses out to our ‘feeling’ brain, that is our natural cravings, desires and urges. We can curb this by being self-aware and thinking through any important decision.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

3 Reasons Why You Make Terrible Decisions (And How to Stop)

3 Reasons Why You Make Terrible Decisions (And How to Stop)

https://markmanson.net/decision-making

markmanson.net

9

Key Ideas

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.

Our Emotions Hijack Our Objectivity

Humans are not good at impartially evaluating the risks and rewards of any decision.

Our ‘thinking’ brain loses out to our ‘feeling’ brain, that is our natural cravings, desires and urges. We can curb this by being self-aware and thinking through any important decision.

Temporal Discounting

It is a quirk which makes us value the present opportunity more than a future opportunity. This is known as ‘Present Bias’ in psychology.

Example: If offered a choice between getting $100 now or $150 after a year, we are more likely to take up the money offered right now.

Our Minds Are Bad At Compounding Stuff

If we practice something (learning a new language for example) for just 30 minutes a day, we normally do not realize or understand that by practising daily for 365 days, we are better in that activity 3778 per cent or about 38 times.

If we are practising the same skill every other day, we do it for 180 days, that is half the effort and improve by 611 per cent or about 6 times. Missing out on just one day of practice has vast compounding effects by the end of the year.

Status Distorts Our Perceptions

Our perceptions and emotions get skewed when we are in the presence of extreme beauty, power and wealth.

People of status and power are constantly bending reality around us and creating a ‘Halo Effect’, making us feel that they are smarter, more amusing and charismatic than they really are. This affects our judgement and decision making.

How To Make Better Decisions

  1. Write down your thoughts. This helps in being objective and map out your decisions. This also brings clarity to the mind.
  2. Override your anxiety by doing what is required, even though it may be inconvenient or unpleasant.
    3. Understand what our weaknesses are. Then hack or alter your routine to ensure the weak spots do not diminish your productivity or decision making.
  3. Change your environmental settings and reduce junk information consumption. You could stop meeting toxic people and remove Facebook from your phone.

No Decision Is A Decision Too

Running away from decisions and being indecisive is also a decision. Action becomes your friend here, and it is good to get out of the comfort zone and take risks, instead of being in a mental paralysis.

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Life doesn’t happen to us; we are an active participant. We get out of life what we choose.”
Mike Whitaker
All Decisions Are Not Created Equal

  • Small decisions: Impact you for a day, such as what you wear and what you eat.
  • Medium decisions: Impact your life for a year or so, such as deciding to go back to school or take on a roommate.
  • Big decisions: These are made once or twice a year, and successful people use their goals to navigate to the right choice.

Decision making using goals

Successful people have 4 strategies that help them clearly define what they want:

  • They keep 5 prime goals and stay focused on them.
  • They identify the top priority and give it favorable treatment when making decisions.
  • They look for goal and decision overlap, treating this decision with more care.
  • They appreciate momentum, identifying the benefits of continuing to move in the right direction.

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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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