Write key decisions

Whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, write down what you expect will happen. Nine or 12 months later, compare the actual results with your expectations… Practiced consistently, this simple method will show you within a fairly short period of time, maybe two or three years, where your strengths lie—and this is the most important thing to know.

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This Is How To Make Good Decisions: 4 Secrets Backed By Research - Barking Up The Wrong Tree

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Being able to make decisions when you know you have imperfect data is so critical. I was always taught that “A good decision now is better than a perfect decision in two days.” Many people I know in business recoil at that statement. Many colleagues in graduate school had come from places where they were analysts at a company and their job was to analyze and analyze and analyze. They couldn’t believe somebody would say that you should actually encourage people to make a decision with imperfect information — but I firmly believe you should. I think that’s really important for leaders to incorporate. It’s something that the White House has to do all the time. It’s great to analyze things but at some stage you’re just spinning your wheels.

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Solution? Spend less time trying to amass all the information and more time better defining the problem so you can find the right information.

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Don’t trust your memory. Write it down. Make it a game . See where you score highly and not so highly.

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If I had to give advice across many aspects of life, I would ask people to take what’s called “the outside perspective.” And the outside perspective is easily thought about: “What would you do if you made the recommendation for another person?” And I find that often when we’re recommending something to another person, we don’t think about our current state and we don’t think about our current emotions. We actually think a bit more distantly from the decision and often make the better decision because of that.

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A new study from researchers at Rice University, George Mason University and Boston College suggests you should trust your gut — but only if you’re an expert… Across both studies, participants who possessed expertise within the task domain performed on average just as well intuitively as analytically. In addition, experts significantly outperformed novices when making their decisions intuitively but not when making their decisions analytically.

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We all make bad decisions

While we may not like to admit this, we all are making a lot of bad decisions, be it our personal lives, careers or in our jobs. Here is what research says about making good decisions:

  • You need the right information, not more of it.
  • Feelings can be utilized
  • Know your strengths
  • Make a 'good enough' decision

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This Is How To Make Good Decisions: 4 Secrets Backed By Research - Barking Up The Wrong Tree

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People who have friends live longer

A study on longevity found that it was not weight, eating habits, exercise, air pollution, etc. that affected how long someone lives.

Only two things made a huge difference:

  • frequency of social support
  • how integrated peope were in their community.

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  • Ignoring context: Crossed arms don’t mean much if the room is cold or the chair they’re sitting in doesn’t have armrests. 
  • Not looking for clusters: It’s a consistent grouping of actions (sweating, touching the face, and stuttering together) that is really going to tell you something. 
  • Not getting a baseline: If someone is always jumpy, jumpiness doesn’t tell you anything. 
  • Not being conscious of biases: If you already like or dislike the person, it’s going to affect your judgment. 

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How To Read People: 5 Secrets Backed By Research - Barking Up The Wrong Tree

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