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If You Want To Make Good Decisions All The Time, Read This

If You Want To Make Good Decisions All The Time, Read This

Life is a series of decisions, the results of which are oftentimes difficult to see. It may be challenging at times to know that your decisions are the right ones, which makes it all the more important to focus on improving your decision-making process. Below are nine ways to help you make informed, reasonable and balanced decisions.

1. Explore the Available Alternatives—Even the Unlikely Ones.

We live in a world where people tend to wear either black or white hats; there is no continuum of moral relativity, just personal opinion and everything that falls outside of it. What if we lived another way? What if people were willing to explore alternatives?

For starters, Congress would probably see heretofore unimagined increases in productivity. We’d also avoid a great many conflicts with our significant others once we open the world of compromise. Deep convictions are healthy, but unblinking devotion to them is not.

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decisions - Jose maria cuella

    2. Renew Your Commitment to Meaningful Communication.

    Silence may be golden and—in the right situation—it may be your best course of action. The thing is, most decisions shouldn’t be made in a vacuum. Talking it out with someone, like your significant other or even your parents, is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign that you want to make an informed decision.

    Talk to any relationship expert and they’ll tell you something like “communication is key.” They’re not wrong; talking about the things that stress you, or the decisions you don’t want to make, can help to open up paths that you didn’t know were there.

    3. Use Sound Reasoning Instead of Your Instincts.

    We’ve all seen our share of movies where the hero is counseled by an older, wizened character to trust his/her “feelings” or “instincts.” That’s all well and good in fiction, but in the real world our gut instincts can get us into trouble.

    Reasoning is your friend. It will help you to weigh the consequences of your actions after your instincts have totally failed you. Instinct is what prompts people to get in fistfights while waiting in line at the self-checkout; reason is going home with all of your teeth intact.

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    4. Keep Your Expectations Realistic.

    You were probably told as a child that you could be anything you wanted when you grew up. The fact that you’re not a cowboy-astronaut hybrid proves that was a lie. Part of growing up is learning to measure our expectations against harsh reality.

    There’s nothing wrong with some healthy self-confidence. Believing we’re destined for important things is a natural impulse, and shouldn’t be fought. In fact, it goes by another name in the professional world: ambition. What you don’t want to do is lose focus on the here-and-now in favor of unrealistic goals and expectations.

    shoe shopping-satya murthy

      5. Take Care When Making Important Purchases.

      Whether we’re thinking about buying a new mattress, a car or even a house, purchasing big-ticket items can be as stressful as it is exciting. While most of us tend to look for the absolute best deals on important purchases, sometimes spending a little more can be the better course of action in the long run.

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      During our formative college years, buying cheap furniture or even renting furniture for our temporary housing made sense. After we strike out on our own, however, it makes a lot more sense to buy something that’s going to last. Instead of buying a new $100 couch every year for ten years, why not buy a high-quality couch just once? It might be a larger one-time expense, but you’ll thank yourself down the road.

      6. Think About the Pros and Cons.

      While we said somewhere above that nothing in life is black and white, that’s not to say that certain decisions don’t call for a thorough breakdown of their positive and negative qualities.

      This kind of bilateral thinking may seem counterproductive or even juvenile, but it may help you to think of upsides and downsides that otherwise would have remained hidden.

      7. Use Appropriate Framing When Looking at the Big Picture.

      Most of us begin each day with a single thing in mind: making it to sundown in more or less the same condition as when we awakened. In only the most extreme situations are our waking thoughts given to someone else.

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      That’s why it’s important to think of our lives as a piece of a puzzle, and to determine anew our piece in it each day. Having a myopic view of the world and our place in it is to lack context—a frame, if you will—for our lives. Having an unrealistic idea of our own importance is the road to regret, and possibly a lot worse.

      8. Realistically Evaluate Your Commitment to Action.

      Have you ever heard the phrase “no half measures?” It refers to a mindset in which you are wholly committed to a particular course of action. We too often skate through life without actually making a decision, whether because we don’t feel equipped or because we don’t feel particularly invested in the outcome.

      If you want to know that you’re making the best decisions, there’s a simple test: Ask yourself “Am I committed to this?” Are you interested in how it’s going to play out? If you find your commitment to something flagging, it’s a sign that you may have the wrong motivations.

      9. Fight Procrastination. Today.

      That last-minute scramble to finish your assignment or work project is doing you no favors. It’s going to lower the quality of the final product and induce unnecessary stress. The same goes to make good decisions.

      If you’ve got a decision to make, a reasonable amount of examination and discourse is not only natural, but necessary. The last thing you want to do, however, is to use that as an excuse to put off making that next important decision.

      Featured photo credit: Rachel via Flickr Creative Commons

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      Last Updated on July 8, 2020

      How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

      How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

      What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

      When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

      In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

      While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

      As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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        Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

        Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

        The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

        But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

        However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

        This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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        Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

        We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

        Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

        Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

        The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

        When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

        When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

        How to Make Decision Effectively

        Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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        1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

        You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

        Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

        Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

        2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

        You don’t have to choose all the time.

        Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

        Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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        3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

        You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

        The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

        Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

        Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

        So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

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        Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

        Reference

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