Make better decisions. It sounds simple but in practice, it’s not as easy you might think.
As humans we make more or less 35,000 decisions a day. These decisions can vary from the small things; like what socks to wear; or whether to watch the news, to the bigger choices; will a gap year be detrimental to my career prospects; should we be making environmentally-friendly lifestyle changes; do I go for the big promotion?
When considering the bigger decisions that we make, both personally and professionally, we know that the outcomes of these decisions have an impact on wellbeing. I loved Barry Schwartz’s great TedTalk about how more choice has made western societies more dissatisfied, rather than making us happier.
The fundamentals of most strategies for decision-making include objective setting, investigation, establishing options, reacting and evaluating. Many of us already follow this pattern in some form or another, whether consciously or not, from a very young age. And for that reason, I don’t tell you how to make a decision – I want to share how you can make better decisions. Ones that consider all the variables, have maximum impact, and are sustainable in the long run.
Tip 1. Take a moment to understand the whole issue
The decision you are making may be based on one area and it’s direct impact to you. Take the decision of whether you should go freelance, for example. Going freelance would give you more flexibility and potentially more money.
But like most things relating to us humans, there’s likely to be a series of interconnect points, or systems, that exist around that one topic. Is there a saturation of freelancers in the market? Will new tax rules make it harder to profit from being freelance? Is working by yourself better for your well-being than being in a team?
Understanding the whole system ensures that your ultimate decision is based on the whole issue, not just the pointy bit that is directed at you and your immediate needs.
When considering how human-centered design can help businesses build resilience against COVID-19 uncertainty, Mika Raulas talks about the importance of understanding the core problem. Whether you want to solve a problem or make better decisions, the same principle applies. Your end decision becomes more sustainable when you take into account the whole.
Tip 2. Consider the other perspectives
Who else is interested in this topic at the heart of this decision and why does it interest them? You’ll be seeing and interpreting the topic from one angle but taking the time to understand other points of view gives you a much fuller picture.
Right now, you have a certain perspective but as you journey down the path that your decision leads you on, it’s pretty likely that your perspective will change and evolve. Someone else, may already be at that point, or have a completely different point of view that makes you consider the whole issue in a different way. Being aware of the different sides to the topic, and understanding why someone thinks that way can save you a lot of effort and surprises.
As an extension of that, take into account the needs of those whom your decision will impact. My blog about how understanding humanness helps you make better decisions goes into this, but essentially a better understanding helps you make better decisions that have the right impact on the people around.
Tip 3: Be ready for change
We’ve all been there – you make a decision based on the information that you have to hand, but then a new factor emerges that shifts everything. My first two tips can help to prepare for issue-related shifts, but big surprises, whether from the macro-environment or somewhere else, will always, always exist. For example, you enroll in a university course to study philosophy, but your partner is offered a once in a lifetime opportunity in another country.
And while you can’t plan for every eventuality, you can build a network that helps you understand and evolve your thinking quickly. Whether this is a team of trusted advisors, a repository of materials, or a platform that does all of the above, being prepared means that you can respond to the issues and make better decisions at pace.
At Hunome, we’ve created a platform that helps our members make better decisions, by allowing them to understand themes holistically, the different perspectives involved and the people who have contributed to them, and real-time evolution of themes. See how Hunome can help you make better decisions by signing up for Hunome today.