Five Ways To Make Smarter Daily Decisions

Every day of your life you have to spend time and energy making all sorts of decisions. These daily decisions may include: What will you have for breakfast? Should you buy this life insurance? What colour scarf should you wear?

Some daily decisions are not really important, others can have negative consequences if you choose poorly.

Most people can make good decisions if you give them enough time to think things through, but the average person does not have the luxury of retreating to a mountain to contemplate a decision for hours or weeks. We are expected to make decisions quickly, especially daily decisions, which makes it hard to choose good options. So how can you make better decisions under the pressures of daily life?

1. Take More Time

This first one may seem to fly in the face of what we just said, but when it comes to important decisions you need to hold off on making a decision until you have thought it through enough. This means you have to tell the difference between decisions that are trivial and ones that are important. Don’t spend half an hour deliberating on what to have for lunch, but only five minutes thinking about critical things.

2. Don’t Hold Out for Perfection

The only thing worse than making a bad decision, is making no decision at all. The main reason people do this is because they won’t commit to a decision that isn’t (in their view) perfect. In practice every decision involves some sort of compromise or sacrifice. So it’s better to aim for decisions that are “optimised” rather than perfect. Learn to settle for a “good enough” solution and you’ll not only make more decisions, but better ones as well.

3. Use Your Intuition the Right Way

Everyone has a “gut feeling”, that tells them to choose one thing or another. This intuition can help you make snap decisions, but can also lead you astray. Intuition doesn’t just come in one flavour. You get regular old gut feelings and then you get “expert intuition”. Expert intuition is the feeling you get about problems, similar to those you have solved in the past, or those that fall in your area of expertise. Repeatedly solving problems of one type successfully creates fast mental strategies to solve future ones, so you can trust your expert intuition. When it comes to new or uncommon problems however, you should take the time to think it through and ignore what your gut is telling you.

4. Ask Someone!

The things that we know, are vastly outnumbered by the things we don’t know, which means that you’ll often encounter problems, where you have little or no experience to draw upon. The best thing to do in this situation, is to trust the advice of someone else who does have the experience you lack. Don’t be afraid to consult with other people, no one expects you to know everything. The best decision makers get input from multiple sources.

5. Embrace Failure

No one is perfect, so you’re going to make some poor decisions. This is inevitable and no human being can get away from that reality. You shouldn’t let the fear of making a bad decision keep you from making good ones. Making decisions while giving yourself permission to fail is critical to a lifetime of making better decisions. If you never have bad decisions to learn from, you can’t grow into someone that generally makes good decisions. Failures are not some sort of fundamental sin, they’re a core component of learning and growth. So while you shouldn’t aim to fail, you also shouldn’t punish yourself for making mistakes.

Getting into the habit of making good daily decisions, is the road to a virtuous cycle that leads to another good decision, and another, and so on. If you stop to think and apply some of these strategies you’ll be well on your way.