Decisions, decisions, decisions…
Happy Friday everyone! I trust you are all well and enjoying the countless tasty memes of Zuckerberg making the rounds on the internetz over the past few days. It was quite interesting seeing the interaction between the youthful optimism of Silicon Valley and the tempered wariness of Capitol Hill. I now endeavour to answer any and every question with “Senator, we run ads” while having a blank yet subtly flabbergasted look.
Snarky replies aside, in this day and age of fake news, echo chambers and blockchain, how does one go about deciding the best way to spend the coin of time? I want to touch on the decision-making process, and share how I go about making decisions in my personal and professional life. Decision-making is a crucial but often overlooked part of our daily lives because we do it continuously, unconsciously. Should I start worrying about a summer internship now and cry later, or cry now and get it out of the way?
In tackling non-fictional scenarios like this, it is always useful to have a framework to use when making decisions – because the moment you realise you need a framework is the moment it is way, way too late. I am strong believer of being prepared, which is why phrases like “over-prepared” and “uprising of the proletariat” do not exist in my dictionary. So, what are the ingredients to this framework? They are:
- Context: What is happening? Why is it happening? How is it happening?
- Control: How much control do I have over the situation?
- Objective: What do I want to achieve? Why?
- Options: How can I achieve what I want to achieve? Pros and cons?
As this is a blog post and not a textbook, I will keep this short and brief. Frankly, the steps in the framework are really quite self-explanatory and it is something that most people go through. However, what is useful here is to consciously go through these steps whenever you make an important decision, because in slowing down and thinking systematically we can mitigate costly biases and heuristics. That is the most difficult part – having the mental discipline to go through a process in making decisions to ensure you are not making snap judgements but informed decisions. I know, you just want to be an irrational ball of feelings living life through intuition and memes. While I fully support that, the world is a cold and cruel place. In fact, it might not even be that cold anymore since global warming is a thing.
Essentially, take time to think about your decisions. Slow down. Get woke. The funny thing about thinking about thinking is that it will go from unnatural and conscious to natural and unconscious. Like any skill you practice, no gain without pain. I would suggest you start with small decisions with minimal risks to practice the motion of thinking before moving on to bigger decisions. For example, begin with thinking through that late-night decision to order in 2 XL pizzas despite your 8am midterm before graduating to thinking about that ICO.
As always, because I believe in creating great social and economic value, here is a great article on mental models for decision-making. If you are still wondering why you should go through all the trouble of thinking about thinking, let me just say:
“Senator, we run ads”.
I love you.