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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

On making life’s biggest decisions

When it comes to decision-making, first you decide, then you deduce. Of course, life’s biggest decisions such as marriage or a career change are some of the hardest decisions to make because the fear is that they won’t work out. The bigger the risk, the greater the hesitation.

‘This might not work.’

People like to play it safe. It’s easier to adopt the status quo than playing the long game and facing the fear of uncertainty. Chance is risky. Change is scary.

We’re so scared of making a change that we outsource our decisions to other people. In other words, we seek their permission. Not surprisingly, our family members and peers recommend circling the race track rather than pursuing the labyrinth of self-discovery. Warns financial advisor and essayist/sketcher Carl Richards for the New York Times:

“People expect you to stay how you are, to maintain the status quo, to stay the course. And if you get bogged down looking for that affirmation to make a change, you may never make it.”

All believing is betting

People that do risk change — on their volition or because of a coin toss — usually end up thinking the best of it. When we change, we grow.

“Based on the results of tossing over 20,000 virtual coins, the study found that people were happier after making a major change, whether they did it because the coin forced their hand or because they decided on their own.”

The only person we need permission from is ourselves. Indecision is a decision, albeit, the wrong one. Still unsure? Here’s your permission slip.

“Whatever it is, you now have permission to do it.”

Read Hesitant to Make That Big Life Change, Permission Granted

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Business Life & Philosophy

Decisions are either ‘irreversible or reversible’

Sometimes your work is just going to be a 5 out of 10. It’s not worth scrutinizing every performance. The only ill is hesitating, not starting what you think you should do.

Jeff Bezos has an interesting system for making decisions. He sees them as either irreversible or reversible. The simple heuristic pushed him to start Amazon, knowing that he could just go back to his old job if things didn’t work out. Writes the Farnam Street blog:

“Bezos considers 70% certainty to be the cut-off point where it is appropriate to make a decision. That means acting once we have 70% of the required information, instead of waiting longer. Making a decision at 70% certainty and then course-correcting is a lot more effective than waiting for 90% certainty.”

First we try, then we deduce

If the door swings both ways, why not give whatever we’re passionate about our best shot. The worst that can happen is that someone slams the door in our face or locks the other side. And that may be just the message that it’s time to pivot. They’re meant to astonish us, to jolt us out of our everyday thoughts:

We don’t need to collect all the information before we endeavor. We can reduce indecision by replacing it with the astonishment of doing. There is little reason to think in absolutes. Wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson: “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson