“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”
What you want is waiting for you. You have to decide to go and get it. It’s easier to make a decision when we’re clear on our purpose. It may be as simple as asking whether this decision is taking me closer or further from what I want.
Other times, it’s not as simple.
Decide what you want. If you change your mind along the way, that’s fine. Making the choice to go one direction, beats waiting for the right moment, the right circumstances, or more information, to make the right decision.
The one who wins, is the one that can take any circumstances they are dealt and still play a great game.
Here are some reasons we make bad decisions:
- We don’t have experience to draw from in the situation.
- We have an immediate pay off that is positive and overlook the long term effects which are negative.
- We don’t consider the consequences of what we decide.
- We don’t know ourselves well enough. We don’t know our strengths, weaknesses, we have no clear purpose.
- We are blind to our own biases and have few tools to approach different problems.
- We don’t consider different options.
- We don’t understand certainty, uncertainty, risk, reward, opportunity cost, and probability.
Here is what we can do about the above:
- Study and learn from history about what works and what doesn’t. Read biographies of people who have gone through similar situations or who have achieved what you want and learn how they did it. Deconstruct people into strong skills they possess. Work on developing those skills. Stay curious and constantly search for ideas.
- Consider the longer term consequences by asking “and then what” would happen if I did this? Do it a few times. Look for the potential problem areas beforehand.
- Get to know yourself. Experiment a variety of things in life, in work, in relationships, in different environments. Travel. Then reflect on what you’ve learned about yourself through those situations.
- Ask for feedback and different opinions from a variety of people to get more perspective.
- Learn different ways to solve problems. Search for ideas.
- Consider all the options you have and rate them.
- Consider the certainty, uncertainty, risk, reward, opportunity cost, and probability in your possible choices.
In, Take the Risk,4 Dr. Ben Carson discusses four simple questions to ask yourself in order to make a decision. They are:
- What is the best that can happen if you do this?
- What is the best that can happen if you don’t do this?
- What is the worst that can happen if you do this?
- What is the worst that can happen if you don’t do this?
These questions provide a simple way to uncover and assess the pros and cons of your options.
- What are the different outcomes and their probability of occurring?
- What is the opportunity cost? The tradeoff you are making?
- What is the best\ worst that can happen if I do it or if I don’t do it?
- What are some of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make and how did I do it? What was the result of those decisions?
- How can I improve the chance of being right in my choices?
- What other tools can I use to make good decisions?
- Am I being biased and is that affecting my ability to see clearly?
- Who can provide good advice or help?