blog | 3min Read

How to Make Better Decisions

Published on January 30, 2021


How to Make Better Decisions

Oh, the pressure to make a decision hangs over our heads constantly. There is always something that requires a decision to be made. The aptest example is when you sit in front of that Netflix homepage, wondering what to watch. Scroll and slide as much as you want, it’s still a pain.

‘Don’t be so indecisive.. Come on, hurry up.. Decide yaa..’

Oh, the pressure to make a decision hangs over us constantly. There is always something ‘important’ that requires a decision to be made. The best example is when we’re sitting in front of that Netflix homepage trying to figure out what to watch. Often we end up spending more time trying to decide, than actually watching something.

It might seem silly, but these are micro-decisions that we make all the time. Should you order a pizza or pasta? Sometimes we get lost trying to decide such simple things. We often think of ‘decision making’ as something which involves money or prestige or power. But you know that isn’t really true. Every decision can feel like a multi-million dollar decision.

So by chance, if you ask anyone for help in making a decision, most will tell you two things. ‘Beta make a pros and cons list’ and ‘Beta, trust your gut’. These are said so matter of factly that you feel silly wondering why you didn’t do this in the first place. But would you make a pros-cons list for a pizza? Also, can you really trust your gut?

Are you born with an ‘instinct’?

No. You develop instinct over a period of time. Sure, making a pros and cons list works sometimes, but you can also get lost in that list. We’ll search for an equal number of cons to match the pros, making that decision even harder than before. The trick is to do both, in a way. Analyze a situation that needs a decision, and then just take a quick decision. Don’t rush into it, because the thinking part is important as well. But take it nonetheless. Even if it’s the wrong decision at least your instincts will grow because that can only happen by making a decision. Sounds like a twisted loop, but that’s just how it is.

Finding ‘Tripwires’ in your life.

Sometimes though, it can feel like it’s too big a burden to bear. So find a trick around it. There is this concept of tripwires that Chip and Dan Heath share. When you feel like a decision is too big for you, break it down into small parts. ‘Tripwires’ are deadlines that you set for yourself, which force you into action. Say you want to apply to an Ivy League school. That decision is six months down the line and you’re not sure right now. So break it down. You need to give the SATs, that is one tripwire. You need to find a counselor, that’s another tripwire. Maybe you need an Ivy league mentor, that’s one. Maybe you want to do a Harvard summer school program, that’s another. So take these small steps, which force you to make smaller decisions. Now when you come to the big one, you’ve already gone through so many small ones, you’re ready.

Create a process that works for you:

  • The first impulse is to make a knee jerk decision. Don’t.

  • Narrow the problem and re-frame the question.

  • Understand every aspect of the situation that needs a decision. Don’t let the small details go unnoticed and turn into problems later.

  • Others might have faced the same problem, ask for advice.

  • Look at it from a different perspective. What would your imaginary enemy want you to do?

  • Avoid thinking about your past mistakes and getting stuck.

  • See if there are any alternatives available to you.

  • Prepare yourself that you could be wrong.

  • Find some confidence and take a chance with your decision – ‘Trust your gut’

We don’t realize how small decisions in our daily life can affect our mood, our behavior, and even our dreams. It can feel like a lonely moment, but always know that there are others going through similar choices. Share in the comments below, a situation in your life that involved a tough decision. Who knows, maybe somebody else has a solution you never thought of? Maybe your choices help someone else think differently? Share and find out.

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