“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt
Imagine how the world will look like if everyone started making less emotional decisions and more factual and reason-based decisions.
Every day, we’re faced with many decisions, from the trivial (pizza vs. pasta) to extremely important (should you quit or stay?).
Too often we simply go with our instinctive and do what “feels right.” And that’s not always a bad move, but there’s a problem with that strategy: feelings leave us open to a variety of behavioral and psychological biases — biases that affect the way we think and lead us to make the wrong choices.
By being aware of the tendencies that lead us down the wrong path — and considering some techniques to maximise the chances of finding the right one — we can make better, more rational decisions. Here are few things you can do to help you make them:
- Rest or Sleep on It
The right decision requires attention, motivation, and self-control. All of those resources are more limited and exhausted when we are already busy, stressed, and tired. Therefore, when my late dad used to tell me “sleep on it “and decide in the morning was probably a good advice. So, when possible, think through important decisions when you are well rested, clear-headed, and have the energy and motivation to dedicate to the task.
- Take Your Time
Thinking clearly and rationally takes time too. When people are under time pressure or short deadline they are more likely to make risky choices. Hence, when we are in a rush, we jump into a quick conclusion rather than carefully thinking through the facts and information. Therefore, if the decision is important, take your time to think it through thoroughly.
- Gather the Facts
Beyond thinking clearly, we must gather credible facts and information in order to make the right decision. Our decisions are only as good as the information we have about our choices. Yet, there is no such thing as “perfect” information—given that, the trick is to balance the information with the importance of the decision.
- Stay Open to All Possibilities
Sometimes, we can jump into assumptions or be influenced by something we want to believe rather than looking honestly at what information and facts are really telling us. Therefore, it is important to stay open to all facts and avoid making those decisions that may “feel good” in the moment, which will have catastrophic results on the long term.
- Create Rules
We are all human and we get tired, stressed and emotional at times. On the other side, to carefully gather and think every decision is quite tough. That is why the best way is to set up simple rules, checklists and formulas. Hence, using such strategies, and formulas, are often superior to intuitive decision-making in a number of fields minimising the effect of emotional biases that can impact our decision making.
Looking at more everyday example, best is to make a shopping list considering what you really need before going to grocery store, rather than being tempted by immediate hunger and buy unnecessary goods.
In short, the pressure of making the right decisions can be overwhelming, but acting on these principles, our choices become infallible and our lives more rewarding.
To your best decisions,