4 Techniques to Make Better Decisions

A normal day is filled with decisions. From your outfit to your lunch, when to merge into the other lane during your commute, what to put on the grocery list. Then there are those big, potentially life-altering kinds of decisions--

Should I start looking for another job? Do I need to get a new car? Am I ready to move in with my significant other?

--the kinds that can keep you up at night.

While the colloquial advice to “go with your gut” might work for you, it’s usually best to apply a little more strategy. Avoid emotion and impulse-based decisions by employing reason. Here are four techniques to making better decisions from Huffington Post.

1.    Become an observer to the situation
The best way to make a decision based on rational thinking and not emotional thinking is to remove yourself from it. Research shows that when we think about things in the first person, it’s almost inevitable that we use emotion more than reason. When people take a third person perspective, it’s easier to see the logical choice.

2.    Don’t be afraid to cut your losses
The ‘sunk cost bias’ is when we feel obligated to see something through or to completion because of some investment (time, money, emotions, etc.). Maybe you have concert tickets for Friday night, but the week leading up to it has been nonstop. You’re exhausted and want nothing more than to sleep, but you already spent money on the ticket, so you go. You have fun but as a result, you continue to feel exhausted all weekend and start Monday without a break. Recognize when you need a break and take it – sometimes the money lost is well worth the rejuvenation gained.

3.    Think in tongues
If you are bilingual, translate the decision terms in your head. The idea is that, by changing the language, you become less emotionally-invested. It’s easier to become disconnected and think rationally enough to make the better choice. If you don’t speak another language, try re-formatting the decision-making process – turning it into a list or doodle may help you see the solution from a different angle.

4.    Expand your EQ
Yes, you read that right. EQ is emotional intelligence. It’s the ability to identify and manage your own emotions (and recognize those in others). This ability helps keeping emotions at bay to make better decisions. Next time you come to a crossroad, take a step back and recognize how you are responding emotionally.

There’s a little bit of a theme coming out about what factors lead to bad decisions, isn’t there? Being able to recognize when you’re making a decision based on emotion rather than logic is the first step to making better decisions. Try thinking about it in a different way and the outcome may surprise you!

What techniques do you employ to make good decisions?