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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 November 15, 2019

      How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

      How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

      Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

      However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

      Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

      Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

      Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

      What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

      To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

      The Biology

      Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

      Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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      The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

      A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

      Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

      So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

      Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

      Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

      Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

      Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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      The Psychology

      Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

      Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

      Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

      Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

      What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

      Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

      Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

      1. Identify Your Habits

      As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

      2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

      Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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      It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

      3. Apply Logic

      You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

      Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

      4. Choose an Alternative

      As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

      Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

      5. Remove Triggers

      Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

      Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

      6. Visualize Change

      Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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      For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

      7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

      Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

      Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

      Final Thoughts

      Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

      Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

      More About Changing Habits

      Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

      Reference

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