Want to Become a Better Decision Maker? Here’s How
Are you a better decision maker if you have more choices?
“The official dogma runs like this: the way to maximize freedom is to maximize choice; the more choice you have, the more freedom you have; the more freedom you have, the better you are off”, starts Barry Schwartz, American psychologist on a TED talk.
Paradoxically, happiness and success may lie in limiting our choices rather than increasing them, in chess, or life.
Reduce your choices, use strategy! Without strategy, your options go in all directions. Strategy directs and shrinks them.
Decision making and choice
Throughout your life, you must make decisions. Little decisions, big decisions, monumental decisions. Every day, every hour. Decisions are choices. Choices direct your life and are the foundation on which you build all the outcomes in it. You are successful, or less so.
Decision making is a problem solving activity which is terminated when a satisfactory solution is reached. It can be rational or irrational. We make most decisions unconsciously. We simply decide without thinking much. Power of thinking without thinking, the power of the primitive brain, remember? Because frankly, it would take too much time to sit down and list the pros and cons of each decision we must make hundred of times a day.
The first step in the decision making process should be to outline your goals and outcome. This will enable you to see exactly what you are trying to accomplish and keep you on a specific path. This is your strategy.
Next come gathering input, brainstorming to develop alternatives, and evaluation of pros and cons of each alternative. Finally, you make your decision.
There is the rising costs of having to make more and more decisions though
In these modern times we now have to sift through thousands of options to find what we really need. Technology made things even worse and brought us back to foraging behavior.
Each decision requires more effort. And it takes a heavy toll on the part of the brain in charge of what they call executive function. When you focus on a specific task for an extended period of time or making decisions, you are flexing your brain’s executive function muscles. The brain simply gets tired.
The human mind is a remarkable device. Nevertheless, it is not without limits. When depleted, the brain becomes less effective.
Moreover, with more choices mistakes are more likely and psychological consequences of those mistakes are greater.
Are you a maximizer or a satisfier?
While making a decision, are you seeking for what is “good enough” rather than always seeking “the best”? If you take into account the time and effort required to make a decision, satisficing is actually the best strategy. The secret is to be a “satisficer” not an “optimizer”. Good enough is good enough, and once you make a decision that fits your criteria, quit looking.
Strategy brings down the level of choice, in life, or chess
Chess is a game of decision making par excellence. But it takes a high mental toll when you play under pressure within a limited time window. You need to reduce number of possible candidate moves, or choices, to put in less effort, stay fresh and be more successful.
In tactical positions it is actually threats that guide you to narrow down your options.
It’s a different story in calm positional waters. How can you make sure your task of making a decision is less arduous? By using concrete goals and strategy that supports them.
Once you’ve set your goals, strategy makes your life much easier and you are more successful at the same time.
Strategy is your road map for success.
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Whatever you choose, you might as well enjoy it. It is your choice.
We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them, Kahlil Gibran.
It’s all about strategy! Or lack of it. In life, or chess.