Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

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What is in it for me: making decisions is hard, let’s learn how to do it right.

our decision-making isn’t ideal: we think too narrowly; we’re biased by previous choices, personal values and short-term emotions; and we’re overconfident about our decisions.

29 September, 2017 18:08 Share

When you get stuck making a decision, don’t artificially limit your choices.

consider the whole array of alternative options available to you.Consider teenagers. They often get stuck making decisions: Should I smoke cigarettes or not? Should I go to the party or not?It’s clear that these aren’t decisions that consider alternatives among multiple options. They’re just votes for or against a single option. The decision to go to that party or not, for instance, could be made a lot easier if the teen would consider that they could also go to the movies, or watch a football game.Another way to help you find your way out of a sticky decision is to consider the “opportunity cost" of your decision. In other words, what will you be giving up by making this choice?

29 September, 2017 18:12 Share

When problem-solving, don’t pursue just one idea; multitrack many options to find the best solution.

multitracking – or, actively trying out several options simultaneously – and it can improve the decision-making process dramatically.

29 September, 2017 18:16 Share

by having more alternatives, you’re less invested in any single one, and therefore allow yourself to be more flexible in your opinion.

29 September, 2017 18:16 Share

Another is that, when weighing multiple options, you always have a Plan B at hand. If Plan A fails, you have a fallback candidate.

29 September, 2017 18:16 Share

However, you should beware of choice overload, as too many options may paralyze your decision-making.

29 September, 2017 18:17 Share

Look at the solutions someone else has found for the same problem.

what you see as your problem may have already been solved by someone else. You just don’t notice it because their problem is slightly different.

29 September, 2017 18:19 Share

To shake off any bias in your decisions, play devil’s advocate and try and build a case against your decision.

Consider what would have to be true to make your least favorite option, or just the other options, the best choice.By doing this, you’re not arguing for or against personal preferences, but instead analyzing the logical constraints of the options and allowing for disagreement without generating antagonism.

29 September, 2017 18:23 Share

ask disconfirming questions to surface opposing information.

29 September, 2017 18:24 Share

Think about how your situation looks from the outside.

Although we often believe our situation is unique, it benefits us to look at how others in a similar situation have fared. We’re usually more alike than we tend to believe.

29 September, 2017 18:42 Share

Rather than make a plan, run a small experiment to see if your idea works.

In many situations it’s wise to dip your toe in the water, rather than dive in headfirst. This process of testing ideas on a small scale is called ooching.

29 September, 2017 18:42 Share

Instead of mulling endlessly over whether you should commit to a certain option, it is a good idea to first give it a try on a smaller scale.

29 September, 2017 18:43 Share

To get some perspective on your decision, shift your focus to the future

techniques for encouraging our brains to consider long-term consequences.The first is to find emotional distance by imagining the outcomes from a future perspective.This is because present emotions are often very clear and precise, while future emotions are not yet well-defined.

29 September, 2017 19:36 Share

10/10/10: Actively consider future emotions by asking yourself how you would feel about your decision 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years from now.The second technique is to take the observer’s perspective.

29 September, 2017 19:37 Share

By looking at your decision from an observer’s perspective – from a distance – the most important aspects will seem obvious to you.

29 September, 2017 19:37 Share

When your decisions are based on conflicting values, identify your core priorities.

Sometimes our decisions aren’t distracted by short-term emotions, but by an unclear order of priorities in our lives.

29 September, 2017 19:38 Share

find your core priorities. Ask yourself: “Which long-term emotional values, goals or aspirations are most important to me?"

29 September, 2017 19:38 Share

Once you’ve found your core priorities, you must commit yourself to acting on them. We only have a limited time in our lives, so spending more time on core priorities cannot be achieved without limiting the time we spend on other things.

29 September, 2017 19:39 Share

what are you prepared to give up so you’ll have more time to spend on your core priorities?

29 September, 2017 19:39 Share

To prepare for the consequences of your decisions, think of the future as a range rather than a point.

consider both the worst and best possible outcomes, as this will allow you to estimate where you are at a given point, and react when reality moves closer to the worst outcome. To do this, you can use prospective hindsight – the notion that we can cognitively evaluate facts better than possibilities – to your advantage.

29 September, 2017 19:58 Share

when you schedule your next project, consider on the one hand the importance of meeting the deadline and, on the other, the time that you expect the project to take, and add a safety factor for your own benefit.

29 September, 2017 19:59 Share

Set a tripwire to shift from autopilot to manual control and enforce a decision.

set deadlines and partitions to keep yourself from falling into bad habits. Deadlines help us enforce a decision that we'd otherwise procrastinate on.

29 September, 2017 20:05 Share

use labels to recognize disturbing (or encouraging) patterns.

29 September, 2017 20:05 Share

Final summary

When you make a decision, follow the WRAP-process: Widen your Options, Reality-test your assumptions, Attain distance before deciding, and Prepare to be wrong.

29 September, 2017 20:05 Share

About the book:

The book identifies the main issues that typically stand in the way of decision making: a narrow view on our problems, short-term emotions, and overconfidence when it comes to predicting the future. It gives knowledgeable insight into how our decisions are formed and how to avoid making bad ones.

About the author:

Brothers Dan Heath (Senior Fellow at Duke University, supporting social entrepreneurs) and Chip Heath (Professor in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University) are the authors of international bestsellers Switch and Made to Stick.