A simple way to make better decisions

A simple way to make better decisions

Pay-off: Plenty of ideas to make better decisions
Investment: 3 minutes

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Of course, you could use the ideas below to help other people make decisions too. Including buying and selling decisions.

OK, let’s learn by doing:

Pick a decision you’re currently trying to make.

Now, stop trying to make the decision.

That would be risky, after all, since you’re up against your emotions, biases, fears, energy levels, habits, perceived time pressures etc. Why would that crazy mix of chaotic ingredients ever help you get things right?

Instead, ask yourself “what’s a good way to actually make this decision so that the outcome serves me well?”

You may be able to just answer that question if you give it some thought. But if you’re short of ideas, you could use any of these:

  • shortening the deadline to decide, and then making the best of the decision once it’s made, or improving it
  • a full on analysis of data
  • dipping your toes in to test the water then making a better informed decision
  • talking to people who care about you
  • ignoring people who care about you (and instead talking to people who believe in what you’re doing)
  • talking to experts
  • ignoring experts (or common advice) and doing it anyway
  • making it with your head (logic), then your heart (emotion), then your gut check (intuition) and seeing how they compare
  • thinking it through on paper
  • considering which option gives you the most energy
  • considering which option is likely to take the least amount of ‘life’ out of you
  • understanding more about your biases that might cause you problems
  • making the decision 3 times on different days in different locations and comparing how your environment/emotions are affecting you
  • making the decision in the morning then again in the evening then again the next morning and seeing how those compare
  • setting your most important criteria before considering your options (to avoid early biases) and scoring them up
  • putting ‘peace of mind’ near the top of your criteria
  • revisiting your higher-level purpose or goals that this decision affects
  • going straight to your gut-check, providing you have a decent amount of experience in the area
  • taking a quick look at short, medium and long term consequences of your options
  • eliminating the need to make the decision by getting more out of what you already have
  • going on holiday then making the decision once you’re back
  • speaking to others like you who have made the same decision (whether it paid off or they regretted it) and finding out why
  • confirming that ‘good enough’ is better than perfection
  • understanding that cutting your research time down to one third of the time (or 37%, according to the science) you were about to spend, then picking your best option so far will statistically bring about a decision that’s as good as any other you’d have made if you kept on researching (aka “The Secretary Problem)
  • considering how your various options impact the thing that’s holding you back the most from doing what you most want to do
  • using feelings of resistance to suggest to you that you should probably be doing that thing (often the thing you resist most is the more important thing that needs to be done)

This list could go on but there’s some ideas that might help.

Once you’ve got a few ideas on good ways to make this decision…

Ask yourself, “which is the best way to make this decision so that it puts me in the best position?”

People get caught up trying to make decisions without thinking about their decision making strategy. It’s like using the wrong tool for the job. It’s an extra step to ask how you should make your decisions, but it will change a lot of your outcomes for the better. It’s a simple way to make better decisions.

P.S. Don’t forget to ask your colleagues this question in meetings: “so, before we start, what’s a sensible way to make this decision that will increase our chances of doing the right thing?” They’ll thank you for that later.


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