5 Things to actually improve making informed decisions

“We think, each of us, that we’re much more rational than we are. And we think that we make our decisions because we have good reasons to make them. Even when it’s the other way around. We believe in the reasons because we’ve already made the decision.” Daniel Kahneman.

Decision-making is what we do all the time. Most are easy. Do I get up when groggily see 6 am on my clock or rollover? Rollover, of course. Others are harder. Do I stay put or move? This is harder because it has many issues related to it I also must consider. Decisions seem to come in two flavors for options a, b, or c; or yes/no, right/wrong, true/false. The choice between multiple options has two obvious processes that you can follow.

One, list the pros and cons for each option and then choose one. Two is to build a matrix where each option is on a row and each factor is a column. These both seem simple enough. But unfortunately, they are complex because we are human. And humans have biases. For example, if I was buying a new computer, my bias would start affecting my decision-making by eliminating all non-Apple computers. Your biases might eliminate all Apple computers. Another bias that comes into play for many is “buy American.” We heard this admonition in the President’s speech to Congress last week.

Some other factors that affect our decision-making are emotions and memories. We also decide based on missing or wrong information, especially in this age of social media. An article on decision-making in Psychology Today, states that informed decision-making requires critical thinking. I make an informed decision without succumbing to emotions or biases. It requires finding the information you don’t have so you can make a fully informed decision. We need to base our decision on fact rather than on intuition.

5 Things to do in making informed decisions

1. Don’t just do it because everyone else is doing it. Gather your own information and then decide.

2. Identify all your options before deciding. Look especially for the ones that aren’t obvious.

3. Carefully identify factual pros and cons for each option. Someone won’t like me if I do this isn’t likely to be factual because we seldom know what someone else will think. If you really want to know what they will think, ask them.

4. Decide. Make your choice.

5. Review the consequences of your decision. You need to assess the first and second-level consequences. We often decide without thinking about the unintended consequences before we act.

“Every decision brings with it some good, some bad, some lessons, and some luck. The only thing that’s for sure is that indecision steals many years from many people who wind up wishing they’d just had the courage to leap.” Doe Zantamata.



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