Wednesday, December 29, 2010

9 Ways to Make the Right Decision (from Goodlife Zen)

Over the last couple of days, I've had to make a moderately-sized decision about how to spend the next month or so. Juggling all the variables involved got so confusing that I did an internet search on how to make decisions, and found this excellent article: 9 Ways to Make the Right Decision | Goodlife Zen

It's a guest post by Patrick Burga neuroscientist who writes about the biology of everyday life at He has nine suggestions, that don't have to be followed in any particular order - and I found that what he says in the article is actually true: just doing the steps that appealed to me, in no particular order, really worked. So, here are 5 of the 9 suggestions I found particularly useful:

1. Listen to your instincts but don’t let them boss you around.

Write down your gut reaction to the problem. What are you feeling? But then dig deeper:
Ask “why did I think that?” or “why do I feel that way?”

2. List your alternatives.
Write down every option you have for the decision you’re making, get it out of your head and spend some quality time on each one."

3. Rephrase the question.
Whatever problem you have, try writing it down in three or four different ways. Forcing yourself to think about the problem in different ways makes it easier to come up with different solutions.
4. Anticipate history.
Remember what happened last time you were in a similar situation. Go slow and be critical with your recall – beware of only remembering your wins vs. your misses.
6. Think of this as a test.
The human brain is not isolated – it’s hard wired to function in social situations with our peers. The upshot of this is that we devote a lot of time and energy to working in groups and maintaining friends and our status. Imagine that you’re going to be graded for the decision you’re making and you will automatically pay more attention to the process. Write down why you made your decision and follow this by thinking: “This is an exam. I’m handing this in, and I won’t get another chance to change it. Others will see it and grade my logic”. Doing this makes you more likely to examine the “why” of what you’re doing and weed out poorly made plans.

There are more tips at the original article: 9 Ways to Make the Right Decision | Goodlife Zen

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