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3 Timeless Rules for Making Tough Decisions

Save time by not deliberating pointlessly

If the issues on the table have been reasonably vetted, the choices are equally attractive, and there is still no clear answer, then admit that there is no clearly identifiable right way to go and just decide.

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3 Timeless Rules for Making Tough Decisions

3 Timeless Rules for Making Tough Decisions

https://hbr.org/2015/11/3-timeless-rules-for-making-tough-decisions

hbr.org

3

Key Ideas

Use Habits to reduce decision fatigue

By building a habit, you avoid the decision entirely and you can save your decision making energy for other important things.

Use if/then thinking

For example, if someone constantly interrupts you, the rule might be: if the person interrupts me 2 times in a conversation, then I will say something. This technique can help streamline many typical, routine choices we face in our lives.

Save time by not deliberating pointlessly

If the issues on the table have been reasonably vetted, the choices are equally attractive, and there is still no clear answer, then admit that there is no clearly identifiable right way to go and just decide.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Mental models

They are chunks of knowledge that can be simplified and applied to better understand the world, by identify what information is relevant in any given situation, and th...

Reasons we fail to make the best decision possible
  • We’re (sometimes) stupid: irrational, tired or distracted;
  • We have the wrong information;
  • We use the wrong model;
  • We fail to learn;
  • We go with what's easy over what's right. 
Do some math

You make one decision, wait, make a second decision, and then make a compromise between the two.

Averaging the two judgments tends to outperform trying to identify the better of the tw...

Pair a good decision with a bad one

If you only allow yourself your vice while you’re simultaneously being virtuous,  you’ll spend more time doing things that are good for you and less time doing the “bad” things. 

The researchers call this “pre-bundling” and say it allows people to couple instantly gratifying activities (such as watching trashy TV) with a behavior that’s beneficial in the long term but requires willpower (like working out).

Take things one at a time

Next time you’re faced with a problem with many possible answers, pinpoint your end goals and then come up with a solution for each.

This is likely to lead to the generation of a diverse set of options covering multiple categories of solutions.

You are the sum of your decisions

A few major decisions determine a good portion of how our lives, careers, and relationships turn out. The outcomes of these decision points will reverberate for years.

Even smal...

Why We Make Poor Decisions
  • We’re not as rational as we think. 
  • We’re not prepared. We don’t understand the invariant ideas — the mental models — of how the world really works. 
  • We don’t gather the information we need. We make decisions based on our “guts” in complex domains that require serious work to gather all the needed data. 
The World Is Multidisciplinary

We live in a society that demands specialization. Being the best means being an expert in something.  A byproduct of this niche focus is that it narrows the ways we think we can apply our knowledge without being called a fraud.

We should apply all the knowledge at our disposal to the problems and challenges we face every day.

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Our emotions are short-term biased

Our emotions are obsessed with the present moment because it’s difficult to look past our immediate fears and anxieties. And this prevents good decision-making.

The sweet spot in de...

“Risky” behavior you should consider
  • Propose “moonshot” ideas, knowing that 90% of them will get shot down, but that if one of them gets accepted, it will be a huge boost to your career.
  • Be excessively bold in your dating life, stating exactly who and what you want.
  • Buy difficult books expecting that most of them won’t be useful to you, but also that, occasionally, one will completely change your life.
  • Say yes to every invitation knowing that most of the events/people will be boring, but that occasionally you’ll meet someone really interesting.
Optimizing life for fewer regrets

Most of us are afraid of messing thing up. But we rarely ask, “Would I regret that failure?” If the answer is “no,” then that is absolutely a risk you should pursue.

Sometimes, the right decision becomes crystal clear when put into these terms.

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A checklist for faster, better decisions
  • Write down 3 existing company goals impacted by the decision;
  • Write down at least 3 realistic alternatives;
  • Write down the most important information you...
Personal Or Core Values

They are what you consider most important in your life, literally what you “value. ” They are broad concepts that can be applied across a wide range of circumstances, as opposed to narrow answers t...

The Benefits Of Having a Core Value
  • Having a core values list helps you make better decisions. The decisions you make come more quickly and efficiently than they would without it.
  • Being unconscious of your core values makes you likely to keep repeating the same mistakes.
Creating a List Of Personal Values

The core values that are most valuable to each of us come from our own personal experience, not from being taught.

As you put them into practice you’ll get better at internalizing these values and they’ll express themselves subconsciously with smaller decisions, as well.

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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 gai...

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.

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Work on the right decision

The way you frame your decision at the outset can make all the difference. 

State your decision problems carefully, acknowledge their complexity and avoid unwarranted assumptions ...

Specify your objectives

A decision is a means to an endAsk yourself what you most want to accomplish and which of your interests, values, concerns, fears, and aspirations are most relevant to achieving your goal.

Decisions with multiple objectives cannot be resolved by focusing on any one objective.

Create imaginative alternatives

Your decision can be no better than your best alternative.

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