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Making Better Decisions In Life

We are faced with dozens of decisions a day. Some are small: What do I eat for breakfast? Others can be life-changing: Should I take this job or not?

According to authors Chip and Dean Heath in the book Decisive, our decision-making process is boiled down to four steps.

But, unfortunately, we still face challenges in making decisions:

1) We encounter a choice. But narrow framing makes us miss options, and we force the decision even when not needed.

2) We analyze our options. But we seek self-serving information that only supports our original views.

3) We make a choice. But we let too much short-term emotion (or the lack of) get in the way and tempt us to make the wrong one.

4) Then we live with it. But we are often too over-confident in our decision and limit other solutions.

In order to overcome these challenges, the authors used the acronym WRAP, a four-step process to making better decisions.

* Widen your options. Avoid a narrow frame by using the Vanishing Options Test. What would you do if your current options vanished?

When people imagine that they cannot have an option, they are forced to move their mental spotlight elsewhere — really move it — often for the first time in a long while. More options can potentially lead to better decisions. Don’t lock yourself just into “do it or don’t do it” decision. Find somebody who has already solved your problem and ask for help. Chances are they will be able to see things you have missed.

* Reality test your assumptions. Ask yourself, “What would have to be true for this option to be the right answer?”

This question helps reset the context of the conversation, especially in cases of different sides talking past each other.

Consider the opposite decision so you don’t just believe in your own self-serving confirmation bias.

One thing I have learned to do is try to disprove my assumptions instead of just trying to prove them. Don’t be afraid to ask others to help you see both the cons and the pros.

* Attain distance before deciding. Short-term emotions can blind you into making bad decisions.

Separate yourself from your emotions by asking yourself, “What would I tell my best friend to do in this situation?”

Take a break from a decision and come back to it. Sometimes our heads will be clearer and it will give us more time to think through it. Emotions can be our worst enemy, especially when it comes to money issues. * Prepare to be wrong. Develop a tripwire or feedback loop that will force you to come back and reevaluate the decision you made.

This will help limit your exposure to the decision in case you are wrong. Continually re-evaluate the criteria for your decision-making process.

This will help you be more proactive instead of reactive.

For more techniques to help you make better decisions in life and work, visit artofthinkingsmart.com/go/decision.