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

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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

More by this author

Craig J Todd

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

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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