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The Secret to a Successful Life? Have Zero Tolerance for Wrong Decisions

The Secret to a Successful Life? Have Zero Tolerance for Wrong Decisions

Life is full of decisions. Whether we choose this over that, we make a decision and its impact comes afterwards. From time to time, we encounter situations where we need to make a decision. And the decision could have led us to fortune or failure.

Meet Joe Green,[1] the former roommate of Mark Zuckerberg, the current CEO and founder of the Facebook. Instead of dropping out of the university with his roommate to work on building a potential social networking site, he listened to his father’s suggestion to focus on his studies and obtain his degree.

Well, he had never realised this seemingly rational decision would cost him $100 billion, the current valuation of Facebook. What if he followed his gut feeling and took a more risky path? It would be an entirely different story!

Decision making is the most important life skill we should keep improving. Whether we are successful or happy in life is determined by the right decisions we make consistently.

And most importantly, there’s a way to do it!

Common Struggle: Should I Trust My Gut Feeling or Make Careful Calculations for the Right Decision

We all have times struggling to make a decision, especially the important ones. And we are usually caught at a crossroads, wondering whether we should trust our gut feeling or make careful calculations to draw the conclusion.

Most often, we believe that logical reasoning can bring us to the right destination.

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But while we’re trying so hard to make the RIGHT decisions, isn’t it more important to take a step back and ask ourselves: can the reliance on logical thinking help us make the decisions BEST for us?

No, indeed.

Imagine you’ve got some really good grades in public examinations. Logical reasoning would tell you to pursue degrees like law and medicine, based on the expectation that these professional qualifications could bring us to a brighter future.

However, despite that it could be true financial-wise, we are overlooking our interest and whether we will be enjoying our study in those fields. Ultimately, we may earn a lot (if we can make it to graduation). But there is a even larger possibility that we will end up wasting our time pursuing something we are totally uninterested in.

What if we have listened to the voice in our heart and take an alternative path to study what we enjoy and like? We would have reached a higher position and enjoyed our times in college.

You may think we are suggesting that you should follow your gut feeling when making decisions. Yet, in fact, whether to make decisions based on gut feelings or reasoning is not the key point.

It is how much you understand yourself that determines how likely you can make the right decisions.

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Only Self-Understanding Can Give You The Most Reliable Guidance

In our decision-making process, we always seek external information to guide us. This includes the advice and opinions from people we know, people with expertise in the field or people we can trust.

When it turns out to be a wrong decision, we blame them for misguiding us and the advice is inaccurate. We completely exclude ourselves from the consideration of options ahead.

Actually, knowing ourselves better can help us judge whether the given piece of advice or information is valuable or not more accurately.

None on this planet knows ourselves better than we do. And self-understanding is like a yardstick to help you assess the information or advice collected.

General norms are irrelevant to decision-making. People advise us by considering the social norms and think from their perspective instead of ours. When weighing pros and cons of a decision, we should not do it objectively or base on the general norms, after all it is all about us.

Remember, people who make right decisions consistently may not be the ones who are the smartest or the luckiest. They are, indeed, the ones who thoroughly understand themselves.

Understanding Yourself Is Toughest Challenge You Could Have, But You Can Nail It with These 4 Steps

Now we know we have to thoroughly understand ourselves. But it is easier said than done. One may think that we are born knowing ourselves and this is definitely not the case. Our subconscious minds always come into play and affect what we do and how we think without even us noticing. In fact, we may even live our lives without actually knowing who we really are.

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Self-understanding is an abstract concept. The notion taps into intangible things like our values or beliefs and understand your priority, strengths and weaknesses. And to start from something abstract is really challenging so here we provide a concrete step-by-step approach to draw a profile to know ourselves better. Remember to be honest to our own selves.

Step 1: Myers-Briggs Personality Test

If you are stuck with where to begin, try the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, it offers an analysis on your personality types and groups them into 16 different categories. The test consists of questions and statements and ask for your opinion on a scale of agreement. By taking the test, you will know who you are in a broader sense.

Step 2: Strengths and Weaknesses

Ask yourself on what areas you are good at and what you are not. It is even better if you can provide examples to illustrate the traits respectively. You can also ask your friends and family members the same question and compare their answers with yours. You will be amazed by the difference between how you see yourself and how they see you. Discuss with them why they have such an impression of you to investigate the reason.

Step 3: Priorities

Everyone weighs things in their lives differently. By putting yourself into typical scenario, you will realise what is more important to you. For example, if your house is burning down, what would you do and who would you save? You will be astonished by your way to prioritise things that you never know you do.

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Step 4: Strong Emotions

Recall your experience when you have really strong emotions. It can be the time when you are really happy or really furious. Once you identify the incidents , you can then look into the reasons why strong emotions are triggered. What exactly made you so angry? What in particular delights you? By checking these experience, you can understand yourself more about what affects you the most emotionally.

Look Further! There Are Always More Options

After having thorough understanding of yourself, you should explore more options when making decisions. If you stay with the options in hand, they may be good for you. But if you further explore other alternatives, you may find some that are GREAT for you.

While we are collecting information for the existing options, we may come across with other alternatives. Never leave them aside. They may be the best fit for you.

There can be numerous paths leading to the same destination. But some of them are shorter and some take less effort. You should never limit yourselves in picking a new road to go.

When you are looking for other possibilities, it is the time to let your imagination go wild, brainstorm with the additional information gathered and generate as many options as you can. At this point the feasibility is not of concern. You will weed out the improper ones later.

Living without realizing who you are is pitiful. Mourning on the wrong decision you made is even more so. Thus, start building your own profile now and avoid being the next Joe Green!

Reference

More by this author

Jeffrey Lau

Editor. Sport Lover. Animal Lover.

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

How to Stop Information Overload

How to Stop Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

How Serious Is Information Overload?

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

1. Set Your Goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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  • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
  • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
  • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

(You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this:

Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

Summing It Up

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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