What was your best life decision

Making decisions: 13 tips + 12 easy methods

We make around 20,000 decisions every day. Most of them are lightning fast and intuitive. For example the choice of clothes or what we eat for breakfast. Other decisions are more difficult and complex: choosing a career or choosing a partner are important life decisions. They require more time to think about it. But how can such difficult decisions be made? Rational or Intuitive? We'll show you the best methods as well as numerous tips and tricks on how you can make better decisions in the future ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Psychology decisions: blocking fear of loss

With every decision FOR something we exclude all alternatives. A real decision dilemma. Unfortunately, we pay more attention to the associated loss and mourn it afterwards. Because of these fears of loss, decisions are not only blocked. We also often make wrong decisions. The behavioral economist Dan Ariely was able to prove that. In order to prevent the options from decreasing with every choice AGAINST something, we accept in the short term - although that is not at all wise in the long term.

I can not decide! - Why is that?

Add to this the growing number of choices. Whether in shopping centers or on the Internet: There is an endless supply everywhere. It's no different in the job: courses of study, job profiles, career opportunities - the choice is huge. Feelings and marketing tricks also cloud the senses. Difficult to commit to anything.

Make a decision: head or stomach?

We make many decisions unconsciously and spontaneously. Literally from the gut. But is that why they are better? Often - yes, but not necessarily. Numerous studies on the “power of intuition” show: gut decisions are no worse than those of the intellect, but they are umpteen times faster. For example, the psychologist Sian Leah Beilock from the University of Chicago found that professional golfers play best when they don't have time to think about the shot.

The dilemma of long-term decisions

But speed is not everything. The main problem with many decisions is that they have long-term consequences or have long-term goals. But we have to make the decision for or against it here, now, today. True to the saying, many choose the sparrow in hand rather than the pigeon on the roof. It's not always the best choice.

So we make a compromise: we don't choose what we actually want. But at least it has a few advantages now. Dangerous! A compromise may not be that bad. But MANY compromises in a row can take us far away from ourselves and our goals.

Make the right decision: Here's how it works

If you want to make better decisions in the future, you should use your subconscious and at the same time consider the following tips and simple tricks:

  • Be aware of compromises.
    A decision that will make us happy in the long term should be made independently. Most of the time, we don't make bad decisions. But we make compromises because they promise us short-term success. Before they take us off course, we should question them.
  • Force yourself to take a short break.
    When you find yourself making short-term or short-sighted choices, force yourself to take a break to ease the stress of decision-making. For example, by sleeping over it for a night. This reduces the need for an instant reward.
  • Switch to eagle eye view.
    Before making any difficult decision, you should take a few steps back and look at the scenario from a higher-level perspective. Where will the decision take you in the long term? What are the consequences? What chances? If you don't see that, just react.
  • Switch off sources of interference.
    Anyone who has to make an important decision should know all the relevant information and eliminate external stress or disruptive factors (assumptions, opinions, fears). A good choice takes time to think about it. Only make far-reaching decisions when you are calm and relevant.
  • Don't look for the right way.
    The term “right” suggests that there is a general decision. This is not the case in most situations. “Right” is therefore always to be seen in the context of “right for me”. With that in mind, it is easier to break away from decision-making blocks.

Admittedly, the points represent a simple concept. But once internalized, everyday decisions and difficult decisions can be made better.

Make Better Decisions: 12 Ways

The more important the choice, the more difficult it becomes to make wise decisions. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. There are numerous methods that make it easier for you to be spoiled for choice. We present the 12 most important decision-making techniques.

1. The Pro-Cons list

The pro-con list works and is simple: Take a piece of paper, write down the arguments FOR (“pro”) your choice on the left, the OPPOSITE (“contra”) on the right. The number of points alone can be an indication. It is better to weight the arguments: some contra-arguments are so serious that they cannot be outweighed. Disadvantage of the method: the more alternatives you have, the more complex the lists become. And the more difficult it becomes to choose.

2. The Benjamin Franklin List

This list only compares the pro arguments and grades them. An overall grade is then determined for each point. The top grade is also the best choice. Unfortunately, the technology does not consider any disadvantages. There is therefore the risk of a pink image, in which the decisive consequences are overlooked. The Benjamin Franklin list is therefore suitable for initial orientation.

3. The decision tree

If you don't like lists, choose this decision-making technique. The options are reduced step by step by means of a comparison and knockout criteria. The method is suitable for many options. But it reaches its limits if you cannot determine which of them fits your own expectations.

4. The decision mind map

Mind maps also help. The focus here is on the decision. From this branch - as branches - the alternatives. Each branch has further branches with arguments for and against. At the end, the individual paths are assessed. The thickness of the branches symbolizes the strength of the arguments.

5. The decision matrix

All options are entered in columns. In the second step, you define criteria that are important for the decision. You come to the rows of the matrix. The options are now rated according to these criteria on a scale from 1 to 10 or as school grades. Whoever has the most points wins.

6. The Consider-All-Facts Method

The British cognitive scientist Edward de Bono (DeBono thinking hats) developed this decision-making method. Without exception (!) All relevant factors for a decision are collected. The most important things come first, the second things at the bottom of the list. The more information there is, the clearer the picture becomes. The method allows sensible decisions to be made with many variables.

7. The Consider-the-Best Method

You only focus on the most important decision factor in each case. For example the price of a product. However, due to the simplification, the method quickly reaches its limits. Still, don't ignore them. It is well suited for everyday decisions.

8. The slice method

In order to keep track of really important decisions, you should break the BIG picture into smaller stages. The pieces simplify and facilitate the actual decision. Instead of one fundamental decision, you now make many small decisions that can sometimes turn out to be wrong. The big goal is not significantly affected by this.

9. The change of point of view

The more emotions come into play, the stronger the forces of delusion and self-deception work. In this case, a change of perspective helps. For example, ask yourself the question: “What advice would I give to a friend who is faced with a decision?” Advantage: We often see things more clearly with others than with ourselves.

10. The best-case-worst-case analysis

If you want to make a decision, you literally stand in front of a fork in the road. There is a best-case and a worst-case scenario for each alternative. Make yourself aware of this - and keep an eye on the long-term consequences. If you come across a scenario that is likely to have the worst outcome, it will be discarded. Conversely: If even the worst case is not so bad, a feasible way is revealed.

11. The decisive questions

It does not always have to be sophisticated methods to provide decision support. These questions do it too:

What do i really want
What does my heart want
What is the head saying?
Why do i want this?
Am i honest with myself
Have I checked all the alternatives?
Do I know the consequences?

12. The time travel method

As with the change of perspective, it is about building distance from the decision dilemma. The journalist Suzy Welch developed the so-called 10-10-10 method for this purpose. It uses three simple questions to look ahead to the future and the long-term effects:

How do I go about my decision ...
…in 10 mins think?
…in 10 months think?
…in 10 years think?

13 strange facts about how we make decisions

  1. In the dark we make more rational decisions
    When you are faced with an important decision and want to make it rationally, dim the lights. No joke. Scientists working with Alison Jing Xu from the Rotman School of Management were able to show that bright light intensifies our emotions - whether positive or negative.
  2. We make better decisions with a full bladder
    Do not laugh! Scientists at the University of Twente in the Netherlands found that the fuller the bladder, the more likely we are to opt for long-term goals. This is called the “urge to urinate effect”. The reason: Those who manage to suppress their urge to urinate for a short time (!) Can also better resist short-term temptations.
  3. Stress leads to riskier decisions
    This is especially true of managers. Canadian scientists led by Theodore Noseworthy from the University of Guelph were able to show that stress corrupts emotionally and distances us from negative consequences. In times of stress, we prefer to go into attack mode instead of reflecting thoroughly.
  4. We usually choose the first option
    Those who have to choose quickly between several alternatives often opt for the first option, according to a study by Dana R. Carney from the University of California at Berkeley. The danger: We condition and at the same time, motto: The first is the best. Once learned, we stick to this pattern in later decisions.
  5. The majority opts for what is known
    This psycho-effect is related to the one before it and shows: Sometimes you are not spoiled for choice. We tend to prefer the familiar when making a decision. What manipulates us is the strong feeling of familiarity that keeps us safe. The so-called recognition heuristic also leads to wrong judgments. For example on the stock market: better-known companies are often rated better than they are.
  6. If you can't make up your mind, you need an alternative
    The phenomenon is called the decoy effect. If we can't decide between two options, we need a third one - the decoy. It forms a kind of decision-making crutch. One of the other options already looks better.
  7. In a good mood, decisions are more generous
    Watch out when you're in a good mood and need to make a choice! Those who are in a positive mood make suboptimal decisions. This is the result of a study at the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Basel. Whether buying a flat or looking for a job: our own mood has a massive influence on our decision. The better the mood, the faster we accepted an offer.
  8. People in a bad mood see more clearly
    As the Australian psychologist Joe Forgas of the University of New South Wales found out, grouches benefit from increased attention. Effect: You are less likely to fall for urban legends or marketing tricks - and make better decisions.
  9. Anger makes decisions more rational
    Studies by scientists working with Maia Young from the Anderson School of Management in California show that those who get angry make more rational decisions. This is because anger suppresses classic bad factors (technical term: "confirmation bias").
  10. If you want to make better decisions, you should get up
    If you believe a study by psychologist Frank Fischer from Munich's LMU, then you can make better decisions by simply standing up. Those who got up in the experiments had 24 percent more ideas and made better decisions than those who stayed seated in 25 percent of the cases.
  11. Big bonuses lead to better decisions
    Money influences decisions, of course. Harvard scientists around Shawn A. Cole and Martin Kanz discovered, however, that particularly fat bonuses lead to better decisions. In the specific case, the bank employees immediately worked more thoroughly and examined the loan applications more intensively.
  12. Those who are well rested choose wiser
    Even an hour of lack of sleep leads to worse decisions. Those affected then take higher risks, according to a study by Virginie Godet-Cayré from the Center for Health Economics and Administration Research in France.
  13. Decisions make you tired
    Those who have to make a lot of decisions lose intellectual capacities. This is what the psychologist Kathleen Vohs found out. In short: decisions make you tired. Regardless of whether you meet them voluntarily or under pressure, whether they are fun or not - they exhaust us. Anyone who is faced with important decisions should therefore not necessarily make them at the end of a stressful and decisive day.

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