Here’s a shocking fact for you: the average person makes more than 35,000 decisions every single day. From how much creamer to pour into your coffee and which shirt to wear to when to invest in a stock, your decisions shape your daily life. Everyone has their own decision-making style. They may gather relevant information or seek out a trusted source for advice.
With so much mental power also comes quite a bit of doubt. The majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the quality of their decision-making and doubt their own process when presented with any options. We can all recall situations where we have made decisions that we now cringe at.
A multitude of psychology studies have shown humans are not naturally inclined to make effective decisions, especially those with long-term implications. We tend to value the short term over the long term.
You can start to make better decisions today. Think about three significant choices you have made in your personal or professional life that were not made hastily. Maybe you bought a costly appliance, changed how much you invested in a personal relationship, chose a new place to live, applied for a new job or hired a new team member. How did you arrive at those decisions? What process did you follow?
Which of the following best describes your decision-making approach:
(a) Followed your gut reaction
(b) Weighed the pros and cons
© Recalled past similar situations and followed what worked before
(d) Winged it
If you chose (a), you are not alone, many people rely on their intuition. However, intuition can be incorrect and even disastrous. If you selected (b), you likely strive to be as rational as possible. However, weighing pros and cons alone may lead to inadequate choices. If © resonated with you, you may prioritize data and consider decision-making a learning process, which is favorable, but relying solely on the hindsight of past experiences may overlook new information and lead to erroneous conclusions. If you picked (d), it may be time to reevaluate your decision-making approach for significant life choices. There is a better way to make big decisions than any of the above options.
Imagine your car breaks down, but you aren’t a car mechanic. You wouldn’t simply start tinkering around in the engine hoping your intuition would guide you. You’ld also struggle to identify pros and cons for potential solutions. Nor would past experience be of much help. You’d likely call a mechanic to diagnose and fix the issue.
The same principle applies to health issues. If you were feeling ill, you wouldn’t randomly take prescription pills or supplements hoping to cure yourself. You would seek professional medical advice because you lack the knowledge, training and experience to make an informed decision in the medical field.
Although you may not view situations like these as traditional decision-making scenarios, they are, in fact, decisions that require professional guidance. Delegate to experts as much as possible, yet not too much. It is important to determine when a decision is significant enough to warrant the opinion of an expert.
Suppose you want to invest in the stock market, but you have little experience in finance. Relying solely on your intuition or past experiences will not be the best approach. You will get better results by seeking advice from a financial advisor or doing some research to gain a better understanding of the market.
Likewise, if you are planning a vacation to a new destination, you can do some research on the location, read reviews from other travelers, and consult with a travel agent to make an informed decision. Gathering information and seeking expert advice can lead to better decision-making.
To approach an important decision, the first step is to assess whether you are qualified to make it and you have enough information to do so. We spend too much time contemplating decisions when we should be seeking out new information or assistance. Decision-making is a significant undertaking.
Experts in fields such as psychology, statistics, management, and economics have extensively researched how we can enhance our decision-making abilities and avoid common errors. To improve our decision-making, we must understand the distinction between a problem and a decision. The line between the two is subjective; what might appear to be a problem could actually be a decision we are not qualified to make. In that case, it’s important to either delegate the decision or gather more information before proceeding.
We may also be overly confident and fail to recognize when we are not yet ready to make a decision. Pause, seek out more information, and assess whether assistance is necessary. By being more conscious and cautious in our approach, we can make better decisions for ourselves and others.
We should apply these standards not only to ourselves but also to the experts we entrust with important decisions. We need to ask two crucial questions: Is the expert qualified to make the necessary decisions? and Does the expert consistently act on all relevant information?
No answer should make us question an outsider’s ability to make informed and effective decisions. Whether the person is an expert in the field or not, it is a skill to make decisions in both the short term and long term.