We are making decisions every single moment of our life; what food to order at a restaurant, which YouTube recommended video to watch, or what color mask (if any) to wear before heading out.
At times, making decisions can be the simplest thing to execute.
But at other times, it is one of the hardest things to do.
How can we better make decisions for ourselves, especially for those that feel like life or death?
I was reading through “Designing Your Life”, where decision making is important for designing your life (go figure), and I learned that decision making is actually only one of the parts to decision making.
Decision Making in 3 Simple Steps:
Weigh out all your options
Filter down your options into 3-5 choices
Make a decision from the 3-5 choices (through cost-benefit analysis)
These steps work because of 2 underlying insights:
More options in your pool = Greater likelihood of having the best option
Too many choices = Paralysis, which is a lot of wasted time
The truth is, we are easily bought into the first insight (it is good to have the most options), but easily forget that more options do not equate to easy decision making.
In fact, Harvard did a study by selling jam to prove how more options created worse decision-making for people.
In one scenario, they displayed 6 jams being sold, and out of the 40% people who stopped by, about 30% of people bought jam.
In another scenario, they laid out 24 jams (wow, much jam), and out of the 60% people who stopped by (bigger proportion), only 3% of people stopped to pick out jams.
The conclusion was that if you have too many options, you end up having no options.
By having a wide amount of options, and sizing down, you can have actual choices. And when you have fewer choices, you can actually make a decision.
Even though weighing the cost-benefit analysis of each choice and executing on a decision is still difficult, having a step-by-step process to help in decision making can make all the difference.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” —Chinese Proverb
Of course, depends on if that’s the type of jam you’re into. 😉
Questions to ponder: 🤔
- What area in life can you reduce the number of options you have in order to help make a decision?