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If You Follow These 2 Rules to Make Decisions, You’re More Likely to Succeed in Life

If You Follow These 2 Rules to Make Decisions, You’re More Likely to Succeed in Life

It’s estimated that we make about 35,000 decisions every day.[1]

These decisions include: what to wear, what to eat, and what to say. In the latter case, you’re likely to have to decide thousands of times a day on what you are going to say to others. This could range from ordering your morning latte at your local café – to putting your point across persuasively in a team meeting.

Decisions… Decisions… Decisions…

They are constantly needed for us to actively partake in life. However, were you taught how to make decisions at school? Probably not. It’s likely that you were also not taught that effective decision making is an essential component of success.

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To help you out, I’m going to give you a brief tour of what skillful decision making looks like, and how you can learn to do it.

You Don’t Need to Be a Know-It-All to Make Right Decisions…

There are two little-known methods of making great decisions. These two methods have been tried and tested over the years by the vast majority of the world’s most successful people.

Can you guess what these methods are? (Please compare your answers to what you’ll read below.)

Winners in Life Make Decisions Quickly

  • Indecision leads to mental fatigue. By making quick decisions, we can maintain our mental vitality, which gives us the best chance of making the correct decisions going forward. As an example… You need to decide on how to reply to a customer complaint letter but keep putting it off. This ongoing issue is likely to negatively impact any other duties or decisions that you need to make at that time. Instead, decide how to reply to the customer – and then write the letter.
  • Quick decisions put you ahead of your competitors. Imagine for a moment that you run your own company that sells computer software. Your industry is super-competitive, and you constantly need to offer new deals and new products to stay in the game. You hear about an exciting new piece of software that is trending across social media. However, you’re not sure whether the software will be a good fit for your business. You could choose to ‘wait and see’ how the software sells for other companies, or you could decide to take the plunge and become a reseller immediately. Luckily, you picked the latter, as the software proves to be one of the most popular releases for years. You won big, because you acted quickly.
  • Perfect decisions are a myth. I know what you’re thinking… Surely, if I spend time weighing up the pros and cons of a decision, I can come to the perfect conclusion? Unfortunately not. In fact, it’s a common misconception that a perfect decision is just waiting to be found. Think of it this way, if you seek the perfect decision, you are probably going to end up making no decision – and thus taking zero action. Successful people look for the best decisions, but they also understand that perfect decisions are few and far between. For example, if you’re looking for a new job, firstly decide what area of work you would like to do. Then narrow this down to specific roles. You may end up with just one role, but usually it’s better to keep your options open by having several alternatives.

Winners in Life Stick to the Decisions They Make

  • It takes time to see whether a decision was wrong or right. Let’s say that you want to move home to a city that you’ve always enjoyed visiting. You sell your current apartment, and then immediately purchase a property situated in the heart of the new city. After your initial enthusiasm has worn off, you begin to see the negatives: the city is noisy, it’s polluted, and you don’t know anyone. At this point, you could conclude that you made a bad decision. However, if you were to give the new apartment and city more time, you may change your mind. For example, you may discover quiet, green parks for relaxing in nature. You may also start to make friends with people you meet when you’re out and about. Eventually, you may come to love your new home.
  • It’s easier to make further decisions based on your initial decision. Career decisions are at the top of most peoples ‘difficult choices’ list. You may have one idea, but your partner or family may have other ideas for you. The secret is to reach a decision promptly – and then stick to it. This has a number of benefits. Firstly, once you have made a decision, you can get on with the required steps to achieve your career goals. Secondly, when you come across any challenges to reaching your goals, you’ll be able to take the necessary decisions within the context of your initial decision. This will help you to make the right choices – and with the least amount of mental effort.

5 Surefire Ways to Help You Stick to the 2 Rules When Making Decisions

While it may take some time to break your current habits, becoming a great decision maker is easier than you may believe.

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Implement the below methods, and watch both your decision making and success begin to reach new heights.

Set your decision criteria

The most important thing when it comes to decision making is knowing exactly what you want to achieve. If you’re not absolutely clear on your objectives, then it will be tough to come to any decisions.

Imagine that you were considering taking up a new hobby but had no idea where to begin. If you leave this to chance, you’ll probably end up doing nothing. A better approach is to analyze what you are already good at and enjoy. For instance, if you love listening to music, then learning an instrument might be a great hobby for you.

Stop endless information gathering

In today’s ‘information age’, we’re led to believe that researching all the facts and figures before making a decision is a necessity. This is okay, until you find yourself becoming addicted to unearthing more and more information about something. When this happens, you become a full-time researcher, and a no-time actioner!

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Break free from this ‘analysis paralysis’ by knowing when you’ve gathered enough information to make a good decision. You can see this demonstrated in detailed reports that always include an Executive Summary. For busy CEOs, the Executive Summary gives just enough information for them to understand an issue – and to make a decision on it.

Assess the risk/reward ratio

Every time you make a decision, there is a risk that something could go wrong – but also a reward if something goes right. Let’s say that you need to decide on a whether to accept a promotion at work. The new position offers more money, but also comes with more responsibility.

To make a decision on this offer, you would need to assess whether the extra money was worth the added responsibility. To give you another example, professional investors live by their chosen risk/reward ratio. Before each investment, they decide what the potential gains are, compared to how much they could lose. Only once they are happy with this ratio do they decide to invest their money.

Decide on a backup plan

However good your decision making, there will times when things go wrong (sometimes badly!). For this reason, it’s vital to always have in place a backup plan when making major decisions. Professional athletes are an excellent example of this. At any time, their career could be prematurely ended through injury. Because of this looming threat, most professional athletes have a backup plan ready to be actioned. This could be a university degree that will allow them to quickly move into a new career, or if they want to stay within athletics, then they may have taken the necessary training to become coaches or psychotherapists (for example).

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Create decision making habits

First-rate decision makers didn’t become that way overnight. Instead, they honed their decision making over months and years. You must do the same. Start by getting into the habit of making decisions promptly, and then sticking to them. If you struggle at first, then begin with small decisions, and then move onto the bigger decisions when you have more confidence to tackle them.

Outstanding achievers have learned how to be great decision makers. Fortunately for you, the secrets to their success have now been revealed to you.

Take this knowledge – and begin immediately applying it in your life. Decide to be successful. And then let all your future decisions lead the way to the top of Achievement Mountain.

Reference

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Craig J Todd

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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