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7 Strategies for Making Objective Decisions

Pro and Con Lists

Take each option in your decision and make two lists for each; on one side, you'll have all the benefits of an option and on the other, you'll have all the downsides. 

Try to give your list a sense of scale. This can help you think through all the positives and negatives of all your options, and help you visualize the generally best candidate.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

7 Strategies for Making Objective Decisions

7 Strategies for Making Objective Decisions

https://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/7-strategies-for-making-objective-decisions.html

inc.com

12

Key Ideas

Acknowledge biases

Think critically about your own mentality and what factors could contribute to a subjective decision: How much and how well do you know the other people involved with the decision? What past experiences could lead you to a biased view of the different options available to you? What assumptions have you made? 

Pro and Con Lists

Take each option in your decision and make two lists for each; on one side, you'll have all the benefits of an option and on the other, you'll have all the downsides. 

Try to give your list a sense of scale. This can help you think through all the positives and negatives of all your options, and help you visualize the generally best candidate.

The outsider's perspective

Imagine your friend telling you the problem using only the most important information, and think about what you might say in return.

Imaging your own advice if you were counseling a friend on making the decision can help you understand what an outsider's perspective might be. 

Strip down your deciding factors

Try to limit what you have to interpret. Eliminate any factor that isn't one of your primary considerations, and look at what remains.

For example, if you're deciding between two new jobs, you could pare the decision down to salary, work culture, and potential for growth. 

Scoring Systems

Assign positive or negative points to each quality associated with each of your decisions, and keep a total score running for each one. 

Once you've taken everything into consideration, one decision will be objectively worth more than the other. You'll still be affected by your subjective opinions, but they will have a smaller impact.

Your Biases

Our decisions stop being objective when our emotions and biases begin to interfere with our evaluations. In order to reduce this impact, think critically about your own mentality and what factors could contribute to a subjective decision. 

What past experiences could lead you to a biased view of the different options available to you? What assumptions have you made? 

Use Pro and Con Lists

To help you visualize the generally best candidate, take each option in your decision and make two lists for each; on one side, you'll have all the benefits of an option and on the other, you'll have all the downsides. 

An outsider's perspective

Imagining your own advice if you were counseling a friend on making the decision can help you understand what an outsider's perspective might be. 

Because you're in the middle of a situation, your views are distorted, but on the outside, you might see things differently.

Your Deciding Factors

Instead of trying to think of everything that could possibly be accounted for when making the decision, strip down the deciding factors to a minimal number.

For example, if you're deciding between two new jobs, you could pare the decision down to salary, work culture, and potential for growth. Eliminate any factor that isn't one of your primary considerations, and look at what remains.

Reverse Your Line of Thinking

During the decision-making process, you're going to make assumptions. Tinker with those assumptions in order to get a fuller, more objective view of the situation. 

For example, you might assume that your company is going to continue growing in revenue, but what if your sales decrease over the next two years? How would your decision play out?

Create a Scoring System

Assign positive or negative points to each quality associated with each of your decisions, and keep a total score running for each one. 

Once you've taken everything into consideration, one decision will be objectively worth more than the other. 

Live With Your Decision

Make a decision and hold firm to that decision. You can deal with any consequences of that decision as they arise later. In most cases, making a bad decision is still a lot better than making no decision at all.

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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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Decision-making errors

Most decision-making errors boil down to:

  • logical fallacies (over-generalizations, comparing apples and oranges, circular thinking)
  • limiting beliefs (underes...
Confirmation Bias

If you already have an opinion about something before you've even tried to figure it out, chances are you'll over-value information that confirms that opinion.

Think about what kinds of information you would expect to find to support alternative outcomes.

Attribution Bias

The “fundamental attribution error,” is when we excuse our own mistakes but blame other people for theirs.

Give other people the chance to explain themselves before judging their behavior.

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"Good" Decisions

  • Logical decisions tend to trump emotional ones, since emotions can sometimes make us biased or see things in an inaccurate light.
  • Thought-out decisions tend to trump ...

Step away from the problem

Distancing yourself from a problem can help you face it in a more objective way. 

Instead of remaining in your own frame of mind, consider yourself as an outside observer, such as a friend giving advice or a fly on the wall. Removing yourself in this way helps you filter out some of your cognitive biases and lean you toward a more rational decision.

Give yourself some time

Accuracy and reliability in decision making tends to increase if you first give yourself some time to decompress and collect yourself.

This may also help you remove yourself from the problem, knocking out two of these strategies at a time.

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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...
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 choices
Default choices

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...

Designing your life

Design your life like a choice architect:

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  • Add friction to habits you want to quit, making them less accessible, or remove the option to perform them completely.
Richard Thaler
Richard Thaler

“First, never underestimate the power of inertia. Second, that power can be harnessed.” 

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Zero-based thinking

It gives us the rare opportunity to ask ourselves if there anything in our lives that we should do more of, less of, start or stop.

It is a decision thinking technique developed by Brian...

Difficult decisions

Difficult decisions are mostly about weighing the long and short term values. Making objective decisions is difficult because we are biased towards short-term rewards and pre-existing beliefs.

Optimal choices

Ask yourself, knowing what you know now, is there anything you are doing today that you wouldn't do again if you were able to?  

Be willing to stop doing what no longer works. Sometimes it is best to cut your losses and try something else. Be prepared to take risks and understand the potential failure that goes with a new course of action.

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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.

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Decision Matrix Analysis
Decision Matrix Analysis

A decision matrix is a table that helps you to visualize the best option between your different alternatives.

It works by getting you to list your options as rows on a table, and the f...

Like Vs. Lust

There are 2 kinds of pleasure: “liking” and “wanting.” “Liking” is a state of happiness and satisfaction, such as the gratification we get after a good meal. But “wanting” comes from the p...

Not Having Something Makes Us Want It More

We naturally want what we can’t have and being denied it makes us want it more. Suddenly depriving yourself of something may empower the cravings, so occasionally indulgences might good.

But from a drug addiction standpoint, a slip-up or two could have catastrophic effects. Instead of focusing on the fact you can’t have something, learn to reframe ways of thinking and choose to fill that space with new people and outside interests.

The “What The Hell” Effect

This means that once we’ve mis-stepped, we use it as justification to go all out. One bad decision can snowball into bigger consequences, making us temporarily lose sight of our ultimate goal.

Be aware of your actions and way of thinking. And if you make a mistake, dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes and move forward.