9 Little Habits That Make You a Better Decision Maker
Knowing how to make sound decisions, such as what to dress to a job interview or how to invest your money, may be the key to living your greatest life. And being able to make such decisions on time and feeling secure in your decision-making abilities can save you a lot of time and trouble.
Fortunately, everyone can improve their decision-making skills. Incorporate these nine daily routines into your life if you want to become a better decision-maker.
Start making decisions Take Note of Your Overconfidence
Overconfidence can often lead to poor judgement. 1 People constantly overestimate their performance as well as the accuracy of their information, according to studies.
Perhaps you’re 90% certain you know where the workplace you’re attending is. Or perhaps you’re 80 percent positive you can persuade your employer to give you a raise. If you’re overconfident in certain areas, your plans are likely to fail.
It’s also vital to examine your degree of confidence when it comes to time management. Most people overestimate their ability to perform a task in a given amount of time. Do you believe you’ll be able to finish that report in one hour? Do you think you’ll be able to pay your bills online in 30 minutes? You may discover that you are overconfident in your predictions.
Spend some time each day estimating your chances of success. Then, at the conclusion of the day, go through your estimations again. Were you as precise as you thought you were?
Overconfidence can be an issue in certain areas of one’s life, as good decision-makers realise. They then modify their thinking and conduct accordingly.
Identify the Risks You Take
Comfort comes from familiarity. And there’s a strong chance you’re making bad decisions because you’ve become acclimated to your routines and don’t consider the danger you’re in or the harm you’re creating.
For example, you may drive quickly on your way to work every day. Each time you arrive safely and without a speeding penalty, you get a little more used to driving fast. But it’s evident that you’re compromising your safety and putting yourself in legal jeopardy.
Or perhaps you eat fast food every day for lunch. Because you are not experiencing any acute symptoms of illness, you may not consider it an issue. However, you may gain weight or have other health problems as a result of this.
Recognize habits that have become second nature. Because they are automatic, they take little thought on your part. Then, take some time to assess which of them may be damaging or unhealthy, and devise a strategy for developing healthier daily behaviours.
Frame Your Problems In a Different Way
The manner in which you ask a question or an issue has a significant impact on how you will respond and assess your prospects of success. 2
Consider two surgeons. “Ninety percent of those who have this operation live,” one physician assures his patients. According to the other surgeon, “ten percent of patients who undergo this operation die.”
The facts are consistent. However, research shows that when individuals hear “10% of people die,” they believe their danger to be substantially higher.
So, the next time you’re presented with a decision, try framing it differently. Consider whether the little change in language impacts your perception of the situation.
Stop Thinking About the Problem
When faced with a difficult decision, such as whether to relocate to a new area or change occupations, you may spend a significant amount of time weighing the pros and disadvantages, as well as the potential risks and rewards.
And, while evidence shows that thinking about your options is beneficial, overthinking your options can be harmful. Weighing the advantages and drawbacks for an extended period of time may elevate your stress level to the point where you are unable to make a decision.
According to research, there is a lot of value in allowing an idea to “incubate.” Nonconscious thinking is remarkably astute. So think about sleeping on an issue.
Alternatively, engage in an activity that gets your mind off an issue. Allow your brain to work through things in the background, and you’re more likely to come up with clear answers.
Set Aside Time to Reflect on Your Mistakes
Set aside time to think on your blunders, whether you left the house without an umbrella and got soaked on the way to work, or you blew your budget because you couldn’t resist an impulse purchase.
Make it a daily habit to reflect on your choices during the day. When your decisions do not go as planned, consider what went wrong. Look for the lessons you can learn from every mistake you make.
Just be careful not to concentrate on your faults for too long. It’s not beneficial for your mental health to keep replaying your mistakes.
Keep your thinking time to a minimum—perhaps 10 minutes per day will plenty to let you consider what you can do better tomorrow. Then, using the facts you’ve gathered, resolve to make better judgments in the future.
Acknowledge Your Shortcuts
Although it may be difficult to admit, you are biassed in some aspects. It is impossible to be entirely objective.
In truth, your mind has developed mental shortcuts known as heuristics that allow you to make decisions more quickly. And, while these mental shortcuts save you from agonising over every small decision for hours, they can also lead you astray.
The availability heuristic, for example, entails making decisions based on instances and information that come to mind right away. As a result, if you frequently watch news reports about house fires, you are likely to overestimate your risk of experiencing a house fire.
Or, if you’ve lately seen a lot of news about airline crashes, you might believe that your chances of dying in a plane crash are higher than your chances of dying in a car collision (even though statistics show otherwise).
Make it a habit to think about the mental shortcuts that contribute to poor decisions on a daily basis. Recognize your wrong assumptions about people or circumstances, and you may be able to become a little more objective.
Consider the Opposite
When you’ve decided something is true, you’re likely to stick with it. Belief perseverance is a psychological principle. It takes more convincing evidence to modify a belief than one does to form it, and there’s a strong possibility you’ve formed several that don’t serve you well.
For example, you may believe you are a poor public speaker and hence avoid speaking up in meetings. Alternatively, you may assume that you are unsuitable for partnerships and hence refrain from going on dates.
You’ve also formed opinions on some groups of people. Maybe you think “People who work out a lot are narcissists” or “Rich people are nasty.”
Beliefs that you believe are always true or are always accurate can lead you wrong. Arguing against your beliefs is the most effective approach to confront them.
If you’re certain that you shouldn’t speak up in a meeting, list all of the reasons why you should. Alternatively, if you’re certain that affluent people are bad, list reasons why wealthy individuals might be kind or helpful.
Consider the inverse to help you break down unhelpful ideas so you may look at things in a different perspective and decide how to respond differently.
Label Your Emotions
People are more likely to say things like “I had butterflies in my stomach” or “I had a lump in my throat” to express their emotional state than to use feeling terms like sad or nervous.
Many folks simply do not feel comfortable discussing their emotions. However, naming your emotions can help you make better judgments.
Your emotions have a big influence on the decisions you make.
3 Studies demonstrate that anxiety causes people to play it safe. And anxiety spreads from one area of a person’s life to another.
So, if you’re worried about the mortgage application you just submitted, you might be less likely to ask someone out on a date since it sounds too dangerous.
Excited people, on the other hand, tend to overestimate their prospects of success. Even though there’s just a slim chance of success, you can be prepared to take a big risk if the prospective rewards are appealing (this is often the case with gambling).
Make labelling your emotions a daily habit. Take note of if you’re sad, angry, humiliated, anxious, or disappointed. Then pause for a moment to evaluate how your emotions might be influencing your decisions.
Talk to Yourself Like a Trusted Friend
When presented with a difficult decision, ask yourself, “What would I say to a buddy who was experiencing this problem?” You’ll probably find that the answer comes to you more easily if you imagine yourself imparting wisdom to someone else.
Talking to yourself as though you were a close friend removes some of the emotion from the equation. It will assist you in gaining some distance from the decision and will allow you to be a little more objective.
It will also assist you in being friendlier to yourself. 4 While you may be tempted to tell yourself things like, “This will never work. You can’t do anything right,” is probably not something you’d say to a friend. Maybe you’d say something like, “You’ve got this. If you were speaking to a buddy, you would say, “I know you can accomplish it.”
It takes discipline to cultivate a gentler inner conversation. However, if you practise self-compassion on a daily basis, your decision-making abilities will increase.