8 Secrets of Better Decision Making for Success


Our minds are always into thinking about it — Decisions and more Decisions to make. Our everyday lives are full of it, small mundane ones to large life-changing types. To have the right to choose and make decisions are important to our well-being, and is central to us being an Individual. However, sometimes we just make decisions so bad that make us very unhappy or live with lifelong regrets.

Over the few decades, scientists, neurologists and psychologists are looking into the possible mental processes and signals that may affect our decision makings. Here i distilled some of the findings and will share with you 8 simple ways to make better decisions towards your success.

A) Danger of Social Pressure

Everyone of us would like to think of our-self as a single-minded individual and have a clear say of what we want, but in fact no one is immune to Social Pressure. Many studies have shown that human succumb to social pressure especially at extreme conditions.

We do have ways to avoid the danger of social pressure. At anytime that you suspect that your decisions are based on what your superior or senior wanted, step back and re-group your thoughts. When you are in a group and everyone agree on a certain thing, do not assume they are right and go along. Step back and ask yourself if this is true, and if not — be the one to oppose and share with them your thoughts and reasoning. Beware of situations when you have little responsibilities because that is where you are most likely to make irresponsible decisions and feedback.

B) Do Not Fear Consequences

Every decision that we are making usually involves predicting the future, be it choosing who to date and marry, changing jobs or what course to study. We normally try to imagine how our choices will make us feel, and we usually go for the option we think will make us the happiest. The problem is that we are not that good in this type of affectionate forecasting.

We have too often overestimate the impact of our decision outcomes, both good and bad. In fact the consequences of most events are less intense and briefer than most people thought. A major factor is due to Lost Aversion, where we feel that A Loss will hurt more than A Gain will make us happy.

Our solution? Instead of imagining how a outcome can make us feel, we should try to find someone who has made the same choice before and see how they felt. Is is important to understand that whatever the future holds, it will probably hurt or please you less than you have imagined.

C) Go with Gut-Feeling

Sometimes an instinctive and instantaneous choice may be as good as a decision that requires much time to conjure. One article reported that we make judgments about a persons' competency, aggressiveness and trustworthiness within the 100 milliseconds of seeing a new face. Given a longer time to look (up to 1 -2 second), researchers found that observers severely revised their views, but only became more confident in their snapshots decisions. Something you are familiar is not it?

Some would argue that extra information can help you to make rational decisions. Yet many times, the more information you have, the better off you may be going with instincts. Practice with cautious and experience sometimes.

D) Emotions Consideration

We all think that emotions are the enemy of decision making, but in fact they are integral to it. Neurologist studies show that whenever we make a decisions, the brains' emotional center is active. Our brain stores emotional memories of past choices, which we use to inform present decisions. This is detrimental as making choices under the influence of an emotion can seriously affect the outcome of it.

Personal experience shows that when we are angry or nervous, we are more likely to accept the first thing that we are being offered rather than consider other options that are available. Anger and nervousness seems to make us risk-prone and impetuous. All emotions affect our thinking and motivation, so it may be best to avoid making decisions under such circumstances.

Sadness on the other hand, surprisingly, seems to help us make better decisions. When we are sad, we seem to take time to consider the various options on offer, and ended up making better decisions. There are reports that expressed depressed people have the most realistic take on this world.

E) Understand that Irrelevant Figures affect our brain

Our decisions are easily attached to irrelevant facts and figures that we come across. Every-time when we see something that marked "reduced price", "end-of-year sale", "moving-out sale" in a shop, we lost our senses for making decisions. The original price serves as an anchor against which we compare the discounted price and we make it look like a great bargain even if in absolute terms it's expensive. This is very difficult to break. One way is to resist the temptation and spend sometimes looking around for similar products or services.

F) Looking from the other angle

We prefer options that seems to offer some gains and detest those that seems to involve losses. This is a common weakness in us that marketing department of products and service tend to exploit. We would rather a product that estimate "80% fat free" than another that shows "20% fat".

It is tough to ignore such effects but it is important to at least know that such biases is around. Better education and experience will come in to negate this effect. But for now — we can avoid it by looking at other angle.

G) Be Adaptable and Flexible

All the success coach and motivation guru always tells us to have perseverance and be strong to drive the project or ideas through. This is not wrong, but i believe they did not mention that we should persevere but be open, adaptable and flexible at all times. We need to be realistic.

The notion is that the more we invest in something, the more commitment we feel towards it. The investment need not be in financial form. Who has not persevered with a tedious thick book, and yet find it not interesting at all? Does this scenario sounds familiar to you? Always remind yourself that the past is the past. It is alright to move on, as there might be better things ahead of it, compared to the current settings. If at the time of considering whether to end a book or a project, that you would not initiate now if given a choice, then it's probably not a good idea to continue. Scrape it and start something new and refreshing.

H) Limit Your Options

We might think more choice is better. But consider this — Let say you are trying to get a packet of crackers for you son. Would you be happier to choose from a selection of 10 or a selection of 30? This is commonly known as the paradox of Choice. In fact more choices is not always good. Sometimes, less choice is better.

More choices requires more information processing skills and the process can be time-consuming and confusing. Greater choice also increases the chances of making mistakes, so we will easily feel less satisfied due to the fear that we have chosen a wrong option and missed a better opportunity.

This paradox of Choice is worst for people that examine all options before making up their minds. They spend whole lots of time and energy trying to find the Best Solution. Those people that tend to choose the first option that meets their requirements suffer least. If we are out to find a 'good enough' answer, a lot of the pressure is off and task of choosing something in the avalanche of choices becomes manageable. So, instead of searching for your ideal Hand-phone, ask a friend if he is happy with his. If he is, it will probably work for you too. Even in situations when a choice seems far too important to simply choose it, try to limit the number of options.

I) Avoid Procrastination

For cases where time permit us to slowly come up with the decisions, it might be detrimental if we do not keep it in check. By being complacent and only visiting on surface the problem is not good for us. We should avoid procrastination and think and of the possible options that we have and jot it down. In this case, we have a certain "number of options" in our list and can easily filter out one at a time as each day passes. This ensures that our mind is clear of our actions.

Hope this information will help you to make better decisions in order to be successful in your own ways. For me, i have a couple of decision to make my career and i will be employing the eight ways that i have mentioned.

Sean Chua