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If You Have These 8 Habits, You’re More Likely to Make Terrible Decisions Than Others

If You Have These 8 Habits, You’re More Likely to Make Terrible Decisions Than Others

Let’s get real: we’ve all made bad decisions from time to time.[1] That’s just part of life. Some people make terrible decisions more often than others, however (let’s be honest: we all have that one friend).

If you suspect you might BE the friend who can’t get it together, then it might be time to reevaluate your own decision making. Here are 8 habits that could be fueling a string of bad decisions. Do they sound familiar? Don’t worry—you CAN work on fixing these habits, but you need to understand why they’re sabotaging you in the first place before you can start making better decisions. We’ll show you why they’re standing in your way—and how to fix them.[2]

You don’t prioritize sleep

60 years ago, Americans slept an average of 7.1 hours a night.[3] These days, that number is only 6.1 hours. We’ve all heard how important sleep is to our health and well-being. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t think clearly. You’ll be more prone to injury (1.6x more likely to be injured on the job), and you won’t be able to make good decisions.

The fix for this is simple, but it does take some discipline and boundaries. Set yourself a bedtime and stick to it! Limit caffeine late in the day, and turn off your electronics before bed.

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You struggle a lot when making decisions

It may seem strange that indecisiveness can lead to terrible decisions,[4] but it’s absolutely true. If you don’t want to make a decision, you may go back and forth on what you want, which won’t allow you to objectively make a good decision based on your gut and the facts.

There’s no point in going over the facts over and over to avoid making a decision. Consider all the angles once, and then make a decision that seems best. Then move on!

You follow the herd

It’s so tempting to just agree with what everyone else is doing, isn’t it? Unfortunately, this can lead to some pretty terrible decisions. Following the herd doesn’t allow you to form your own opinions and make a well-reasoned decision—it’s based on emotion and perceived safety.[5]

If you’re thinking about following suit and making the same decision as everyone else, really stop and think about it first. Are you following because it’s easier, or because you actually agree with the decision?

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You’re used to giving up on goals

If you have a pattern of repeatedly giving up on goals, it could be influencing some bad decision making. If you give up at every road block, then you might start making decisions only based on fear. Setting and sticking to goals is essential for personal growth and making consistently good decisions.

If you’ve had trouble meeting goals in the past, start small. Make some easy goals you can achieve quickly to help build up your confidence. Decide to meet any obstacles head on, and don’t give up!

You focus too much on the past

It’s essential to draw on past experience in life—that’s how we learn and protect ourselves. If you’re only focusing on the past, however, you may be repeating mistakes when you make decisions. Or, you may be making decisions based on faulty or outdated assumptions.

It’s important to continually update your processes and look for new solutions. This will help you move forward instead of staying stuck in the past—and getting left behind.

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You seldom do self-reflection

None of us want to blame ourselves for our own problems—we’d much rather point the finger elsewhere. Unfortunately, this self-victimization can sabotage good decision making. You won’t be engaged at work because you’ll be too busy blaming others, and you can easily become one of the 38% of Americans who feel overwhelmed at work.[6]

It’s important to accept that you are responsible for your own feelings and actions. Take ownership of your decisions, and own up to them when you make a mistake. You’ll make better decisions because you’re willing to stand behind them.

You think too much in face of uncertainties

Similar to indecisiveness, overthinking your decisions can lead to uncertainty and reading into the situation too much. You won’t trust your gut and you’ll probably end up too confused to make a good decision.

Yes, you should obviously put thought into a big decision. But don’t let it consume you. Look at all the angles, check your instincts, and make a decision confidently. Then, move on!

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You mistake opinions for facts sometimes

In theory, we all know the difference between opinions and facts, but many people blur those lines and take everything other people (or themselves) think as fact. Falling into this trap can lead to some truly terrible decisions!

If you’re making a decision, do some research on the “facts.” Make sure you know what you’re getting into before you proceed!

Reference

[1] The New York Times: Why We Make Bad Decisions
[2] Lifehack: 5 Techniques To Make Better Decisions
[3] EKU Online: Sleep Deficiency and Fatigue Causing More Workplace Injuries
[4] Harvard Business Review: 9 Habits That Lead to Terrible Decisions
[5] Fast Company: 5 Common Unconscious Biases That Lead To Bad Decisions
[6] USC Online Master of Science in Applied Psychology: Lack of engagement in the workplace

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

There is a great deal of advice in the world telling us how to succeed in life, but often we are given advice that isn’t tailored to our needs, desires and priorities. Success means different things to each of us, and living a life that feels genuinely successful to me might be very different to your idea of a successful life.

Naturally, when we follow the advice of someone else, which is tailored to their life goals and personality, we can end up with something that doesn’t deliver on the promise. We don’t get rewarded with our vision of success: we get theirs.

This is why I’m a proponent of self-discovery, introspection and personal sovereignty. So how to succeed on your own terms?

These 7 essential steps are not going to tell you exactly what to do, but they will provide you with the tools and the questions to ask so that you can discover your own path, so you know how to succeed in life on your own terms.

1. Know Thyself

One of Socrates’ most well-known quotes is,

An unexamined life is not worth living.

I argue that an unexamined life is not a successful one. Self-knowledge is something we could dedicate our lives to, but I’m not suggesting you sit around and navel-gaze in order to find happiness and meaning.

Thankfully, there are people who have created techniques and systems that less us fast-forward through a lot of personal philosophizing, and quickly identify some key aspects of what makes us, us.

You might want to find out what your ideal daily schedule is,[1] and you can take tests that reveal just that. Or you might want to figure out what you need to get things done – and yes, there’s a quiz for that too.

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None of these tests are infallible, and some are more scientific than others, but the process of asking yourself questions about your behaviors and traits is invaluable when it comes to determining your path to succeed in life.

For example, if you know you are an introvert and are unhappy in your current workplace, it might be worth considering why that is (an open plan office space perhaps) and what you would prefer.

It’s these little questions that will provoke answers in you that can guide the decisions that truly improve your life now and in the future.

2. Figure out What Matters to You

What lights you up? This is a question that often gets forgotten as we age. A fortunate child will be given the stimulation they desire in the form of bright toys, affection and entertainment. Little by little, the things that bring a child joy get replaced by what society demands on their behalf.

When we return to that question, and ask ourselves what really matters and what brings us joy, we can move closer towards a successful life. It can help to think back to your childhood, and the times in your life when you were in what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a flow state.[2]

In a state of flow, time slows and our focus is directed like a laser. We are fully present.

Whilst not everything in life that matters to you will conjure up a flow state, it’s a good indication of the kind of activities and experiences you can try to incorporate into your life on a regular basis.

A successful life is made up of moments like this, and when you know what matters to you and brings you a sense of joy and purpose, you can go about creating more of that.

3. Play to Your Strengths

Why spend your time only on mitigating your weaknesses, only to feel average? Instead, playing to your strengths and amplifying those skills and qualities you already have will help you go from average to extraordinary.

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If you’re great at big picture thinking and love dreaming up new ideas, but often lack attention to detail, acknowledge that. Then instead of trying to improve your analytical skills, focus instead on developing your existing skills of imagination and insight. When you need someone with a keen eye for detail, you can collaborate with those people.

Jackson Pollock was an extreme introvert, with no real desire to get his artwork in front of people. Fortunately, he had Clement Greenberg, who was much further towards the extrovert end of the spectrum, to popularize his work and get Pollock the publicity he needed.[3]

Start by identifying your strengths and what comes naturally to you. Then work on developing those and becoming known for those strengths. You can always find someone who will help you in fill in the gaps.

4. Listen to Yourself

It isn’t always clear to us that we’re on a path that leads us to failure or to success. People can spends decades in a job that is unfulfilling and slowly breaking their spirit, without even realizing it – until it’s too late. This is usually because they haven’t learned how to truly listen to themselves.

The challenge we face is that we’re listening to so many other sources of information; whether it’s the news, television, social media, family, friends or colleagues. Many may want to help, but that doesn’t mean they know what’s best for us. Only you know what success means for you, and working this out begins with listening to yourself.

Listening to yourself requires practice. It’s a daily effort, which over time, does get easier. That inner voice of wisdom will get clearer, and the decisions you make will feel more convincing.

To start, you could try to set aside 10 to 15 minutes when you first wake up, in silence. Rather than look at your phone, checking emails or social media, simply sit in silence, listening.

Ask yourself a simple question like, what am I feeling right now, in this moment? Notice the answer that bubbles up, without getting lost in the story. Starting an inner dialogue, without judgment is one of the key tools you can use to start making better decisions in your life.

Learn more about listening to your true self in this guide: How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

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5. Listen to Others (But Not Everyone)

Listening to yourself is one thing, but listening to others is crucial in order to learn, empathize and be of benefit to your community.

Truly listening to others is not just waiting patiently until it’s your turn to speak. Active listening requires focused attention, and the intention to understand where the other person is coming from.

When you do this, you can ask better questions and discover more about the world and everyone in it, as well as learn how to interact with others in order to succeed in life on your own terms.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone you come across. Trolls on the internet may come into the category of people not to listen to. Some people’s opinions will do more harm than good, as not everyone has your best interest in mind.

It’s worth identifying a shortlist of people whose opinions you will listen to. Brené Brown, author of the New York Times best-seller Daring Greatly, recommends taking a 1-inch x 1-inch square of paper and make a list of people whose opinions matter to you. These are the people who love you and will genuinely support and help you. According to Brown,

“If you need more paper, you need to edit.”

6. Make Time for Reflection

It’s easy to go through life without taking inventory of what you’re actually accomplishing. Missing this crucial step means we end up jumping from one goal to the next, without feeling like we’re getting anywhere.

Make time, ideally each day to reflect. You might keep a paper journal, or an online document. Either way, jot down:

  • What went well today
  • Something you’re grateful for
  • What would make tomorrow even better

Doing this can have measurable benefits to our overall sense of well-being, as well as keeping us focused for more success in the future.[4]

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It also helps combat feelings of lack and doubt, that arise when we compare ourselves to others. When we look at someone who appears to be more successful than us in an area of life, we can forget how far we’ve come and how much we have to be grateful for.

Making time to reflect on what you have accomplished is critical to keep you on track, and just not looking at what others are doing.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

Arguably the most important step of all:

Remember that there’s nothing wrong in changing your mind and correcting course.

The path to a successful life is not straight and narrow. It meanders and there’s no harm in going back and picking a different (and better) route.

“I think our life is a journey, and we make mistakes, and it’s how we learn from those mistakes and rebound from those mistakes that sets us on the path that we’re meant to be on.” — Jay Ellis

Be willing to make mistakes, learn from them and change your mind. Ultimately, there’s no better way to succeed in life on your own terms.

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Featured photo credit: Shirly Niv Marton via unsplash.com

Reference

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