How can I stop making bad decisions in my life? A question, all of us want to find an answer for. We all made bad decisions in the past. Decisions that cause us relationships, health, time or money.
The truth is, you will never be smart enough to never make a bad decision again. That´s not why I write this article.
What you can do, is to eliminate bad decisions as much as you can. To help you with that, I am gonna share with you:
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Scientists found, every day you make approximately 35 000 decisions. Smaller, less important decisions like what program do you watch on TV and more important, bigger decisions you do for example at work.
35 000 is a huge number, when the fact is, even for the tiniest decisions you need to spend a little bit of your energy and focus.
Mainly, lack of energy creates a phenomenon, psychologists call – decision fatigue, which is one of the reasons why you are making bad decisions in life.
That´s why in this article, I share with you principles, the most successful people use to prevent decision fatigue and stop making bad decisions in life.
Every day you face different types of decisions. There are smaller, less important (what to eat or what to wear), and larger, much more important decisions (what career to choose, what partner you choose).
These decisions aren´t the same. It´s not the same to decide what you´re going to eat for breakfast and which person from your team you´re going to fire.
What is the same, is the amount of energy you have through the day. That´s the reason why you should really think about what decisions are more important, which decisions need more your energy and prioritize those.
And here´s why…
In 2010, researchers found out, that time of the day significantly influences judicial decisions. The research examined more than 1 000 judicial rulings, that were made in 2009 by Israeli judges.
They found that the likelihood of a more favorable ruling peaked at the beginning of the day 65%, then slowly declining until the scheduled break to nearly 0%.
After a break, the favorable ruling was again at the peak (approximately 65% again) and slowly declined after that (to almost 0%).
Jonathan Levav, associate professor of business at Columbia University, who was one of the co-authors said: “You are anywhere between two and six times as likely to be released if you’re one of the first three prisoners considered versus the last three prisoners considered.”
As you can see, time is one of the key components that influence your decision-making process.
Sooner you schedule your most important decisions, a better chance for you to make a better decision.
Let´s look, how some of the most successful people in the world avoid making bad decisions.
Jeff Bezos, founder, and CEO of Amazon and currently the wealthiest man in the world says:
“As a senior executive, you get paid to make a small number of high-quality decisions. If I make, like, three good decisions a day, that’s enough. And they should be as high quality as I can make them.”
Warren Buffet, legendary investor and currently 3rd wealthiest man in the world goes even further. He says he’s good if he makes three good decisions a year.
Another interesting thing about Bezos is that he schedule his first meeting for 10 a.m. and the goal of this meeting is to make all hard thinking and all hard decisions done by lunchtime.
He knows, right after morning (if you handle your morning routine well) you have the most energy throughout the day, which makes the most likely for you to do the right decision and avoid a bad one.
With time, your energy is gonna drop and as well your judgment.
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To be able to walk, talk, work out, you need to spend a certain amount of your physical energy. The same is for making decisions. More decisions you make, less mental energy remains.
As you already know, you make approximately 35 000 decisions a day. The majority of them are tiny decisions, yet you need to „waste“ your mental energy for making them. Decisions like, what to wear, eat, listen, etc.
That´s why Mark Zuckerberg or Barack Obama have one weird habit:
They wear every day exactly the same clothes. It sounds trivial, but this way, they are able to eliminate one tiny, unnecessary decision, many people can spend hours on.
And considering that one of them was last year a president of the United States, and second is the head of a trillion-dollar company, it´s really smart to save as much mental energy as they can.
In this article, I shared with you some examples, studies, and thoughts on improving your decision-making process. Now, I want to sum it up and put it all into actionable steps.
Here are 3 ways to stop making bad decisions in life:
Willpower is something, many of us rely on much, much, much more than we should. When your decision-making depends only on your willpower, you´re (probably) screwed.
There were many times in my life, I needed to make a decision, I knew what is the right choice, I knew, it´s important, but I didn´t do it. The problem was, I rely only on my willpower. A great example of willpower failure is waking up.
Lots of people all over the world would like to start waking up sooner, so they can make their morning routine and prepare for their upcoming day. Yet, when the alarm clock starts to ring, they immediately hit the snooze button.
Willpower isn´t reliable. Whether it´s for making decisions or just taking action in general. If you want to make a good decision, you can´t let your decision merely on your willpower. What you should focus on is building habits.
I think, in this article, we already covered the timing of your decisions a lot. The study of judges is just one of the many examples that show how important is timing.
It matters whether you´re gonna make a huge decision in the morning when you´re pumped with energy, or in the evening when you barely keep your eyes open.
The best way to eliminate decision fatigue is by planning your day upfront. I don´t know if I know one successful person who doesn´t plan his or her day.
They plan what they´re gonna do, how and mainly, when is the time, they gonna do it. Since you know about your mental energy through the day, always follow this time management advice:
Plan to do the most difficult task right at the beginning of the day.
Couple reasons, why:
If you want to dive more into this concept of planning your day for optimal success, these are two best-selling books, that I found the most valuable:
This story illustrates one of the top reasons, why we so often make the bad decision:
There was one donkey, who was wandering around. The donkey hadn´t eaten, or drink anything in days. After a few days, a donkey found the bucket of water and the bale of hay. Both were equally distanced from the donkey, water on the right side and hey on the left side.
The problem was that the donkey was paralyzed. He couldn´t decide whether he should drink or eat first.
After a few minutes of indecisiveness, the exhausted donkey died. The donkey didn´t die, because of his thirst, or hunger. He had plenty of time to do both. The donkey died because of his indecisiveness.
Donkey wanted so desperately make the best decision, that he forget to decide at all.
Doesn´t this donkey remind you, sometimes? It certainly reminds me. We often wait to have every possible inch of information, so we can decide. But, that´s not true.
Successful people make decisions quickly (as soon as all the facts are available) and change them very slowly (if ever). Unsuccessful people make decisions very slowly and change them often and quickly. – Napoleon Hill
As soon as you gather enough (not all possible) information, just decide. You can make a mistake, but you definitely make a much bigger mistake when you miss the opportunity because you waited too long. Mistakes aren´t bad, indecisiveness is.
To find out 1 strategy for almost fully eliminating the option of making a bad decision, read this short article of mine: How To Make The Right Decisions In Every Situation Of Your Life
These are tips that the most successful people follow to prevent making bad decisions. I believe, becoming successful in anything, it´s easy. You just need to make a little bit more good than bad decisions.
Plan your days, focus on building habits, instead of relying on willpower and don´t overthink too much. You read how overthinking ended up for the donkey.
Comment below: What is the one thing you should prioritize and decide at the beginning of your day, instead of postponing it?
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