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  • Writer's pictureGraham

How to make smarter, forward-thinking decisions

Life is really just a flow of decisions, some big, some small. Making good decisions is like compound interest – the benefits build on each other. The result is you build confidence in decision-making, focus your efforts on the truly impactful decisions, and cultivate a healthier attitude to the future, which is where you reap the harvest of your good decisions!

Unfortunately, most people don't think much about the decisions they make, so they leave a LOT of money on the table in terms of missed opportunity.

Making good decisions is how you exercise control over your life.

Making great decisions is hard:

  • You're overwhelmed by decisions

  • You need to make decisions with increasingly long-term implications

  • You have too much information on which to base your decisions

  • There seems to be just so much uncertainty

There are no "perfect" decisions, but there are lots of ways to make better decisions AND feel better about them.

Here's how, step by step:

Step 1: Get real about what's really important Not all decisions were created equal, and when you can more accurately discriminate between the big and the small, the more time you can spend making quality decisions that will really influence your wellbeing.

For example, how important will your dinner choice tonight be to your long-term wellbeing? ZERO. So don't waste time fussing over it. The important decision is about your diet in general, which will be reflected by what food you have in the house and the ease with which you can prepare it, not specifically what you have for your next meal. That stats from Annie Duke's book How to Decide are horrifying:

I once caught myself spending 20 minutes online shopping for something that cost around $1. I might spend a similar amount of time choosing a flight, even though it costs hundreds of times more. When faced with these kinds of "dollar" decisions, you should select the first option you come across that meets your needs.

Step 2: Get enough information, and no more The Information Revolution has shown no mercy to those prone to analysis paralysis. How many reviews do you need to read before you buy a new television? Everyone's different, so have a reasonably clear idea about how information you'll want BEFORE you start researching. Otherwise you're basically entering a bottomless pit of data from which you may never emerge!

Step 3: Use your imagination ALL decisions are about the future, and big decisions require a clear vision of what could happen. If you can't imagine what work you'll be doing in three years' time, you can't make any kind of useful career decision now.

Stretching your imagination means repeatedly and in a structured way thinking about what could happen, and reflecting on how you feel about it. Take notes, come up with outlandish scenarios, do whatever it takes to think about yourself in a very different situation to how you are now.

With these three steps, you can take the sting out of uncertainty and become a more effective leader of yourself by taking increasingly smart decisions about the things that matter.

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