Decision making is pretty much the vehicle that moves our adult lives.
What would you like to have for breakfast? Which career move should you make next? Who should you spend the rest of your life with? Should you take the green or blue option? Is buying this house a good investment or can you do better? Is diet coke really better than regular coke?
Whether it’s the most mundane daily decisions or the big life-changing ones, training yourself to move fast and with certainty will save you from stress, both in the moment and in the future (in terms of regret) and likewise help you seize the opportunities you do have before it’s too late!
Factors to consider when making decisions.
1. Satisficing vs. Maximizing
The term satisficing is a medley of satisfy and suffice, and was introduced by Herbert A. Simon, an American economist and political scientist whose primary interest was decision-making within organizations.
According to him, satisficing is a decision-making strategy that entails searching through the available alternatives until an acceptability threshold is met.
Maximizing, on the other hand, is characterized by seeking the best possible option by exhaustively looking through all available alternatives.
Although maximizing might seem like the better approach to take, it has been demonstrated that in addition to the increased stress levels experienced during decision-making, most maximizers have lower satisfaction rates with the outcomes of their decisions, in spite of the extensive research involved. You’re always left wondering if you could have done better.
It’s therefore recommended that you decide before hand what you want from any given situation, and then stop your search when your needs have been met, as opposed to waiting until you’ve worked through all the possible options, as that will only decrease your satisfaction, no matter what you choose or how well you choose.
2. Decision Fatigue
“Making decisions uses the very same willpower that you use to say no to doughnuts, drugs or illicit sex,” says Roy F. Baumeister, a social psychologist at Florida State University. “It’s the same willpower that you use to be polite or to wait your turn or to drag yourself out of bed or to hold off going to the bathroom. Your ability to make the right investment or hiring decision may be reduced simply because you expended some of your willpower earlier when you held your tongue in response to someone’s offensive remark or when you exerted yourself to get to the meeting on time.”
Studies have shown that willpower, much like physical energy, diminishes with continued use throughout the day.
It is prudent to figure out a healthy balance between which decisions deserve effort and which ones don’t, so that we can preserve our mental faculties for when it really matters.
Would you rather pick the perfect snack or hire the right candidate for your company?
3. Prepare to Fail
The reality is, even the best decisions can come crushing down sometimes, no matter how much data or preparation is involved. In most cases, there is little to no certainty or guarantee.
Tim Ferriss, the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Tools of Titans recommends discarding the “all or nothing” approach and asking ourselves the following questions instead:
a) What is the worst that could happen?
b) What would you do to get your life back in order if the worst came to pass?
Knowing that our decisions almost always never end up in the worst case scenario and reminding ourselves that we have the power to fix things in case of anything helps us move forward more confidently.
Also, even if you fail, you’ll probably learn an invaluable lesson that will help you make better decisions next time!