5 Little Habits That Make You a Better Decision Maker
Knowing how to make good decisions—like what to wear to a job interview or how to invest your money—could be the key to living your best life. And being able to make those decisions in a timely manner and feeling confident about your decision-making skills could save you a lot of time and hassle.
Fortunately, everyone can take steps to become better decision-makers. If you want to become a better decision-maker, incorporate these nine daily habits into your life.
–Take Note of Your Overconfidence
Overconfidence can easily make your judgment go awry.1
Perhaps you are 90% sure you know where the office is that you’re visiting. Or maybe you’re 80% certain you can convince your boss to give you a promotion. If you’re overconfident about those things, your plans are likely to go awry.
It’s especially important to consider your confidence level in terms of time management. Most people overestimate how much they can accomplish in a certain period of time. Do you think it will only take you one hour to finish that report? Do you predict you’ll be able to pay your online bills in 30 minutes? You might find you’re overconfident in your predictions.
Take time every day to estimate the likelihood that you’ll be successful. Then at the end of the day, review your estimates. Were you as accurate as you thought?
–Identify the Risks You Take
Familiarity breeds comfort. And there’s a good chance you make some poor decisions simply because you’ve grown accustomed to your habits and you don’t think about the danger you’re in or the harm you’re causing.
For example, you might speed on your way to work every day. Each time you arrive safely without a speeding ticket, you become a little more comfortable with driving fast. But clearly, you’re jeopardizing your safety and taking a legal risk.
Or maybe you eat fast food for lunch every day. Since you don’t suffer any immediate signs of ill health, you might not see it as a problem. But over time, you may gain weight or experience other health issues as a consequence.
–Frame Your Problems In a Different Way
The way you pose a question or a problem plays a major role in how you’ll respond and how you’ll perceive your chances of success.
The facts are the same. But research shows people who hear “10 percent of people die” perceive their risk to be much greater.
So when you’re faced with a decision, frame the issue differently. Take a minute to think about whether the slight change in wording affects how you view the problem.
–Stop Thinking About the Problem
When you’re faced with a tough choice, like whether to move to a new city or change careers, you might spend a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons or the potential risks and rewards.
And while science shows there is plenty of value in thinking about your options, overthinking your choices can actually be a problem. Weighing the pros and cons for too long may increase your stress level to the point that you struggle to make a decision.
Studies show there’s a lot of value in letting an idea “incubate.” Non-conscious thinking is surprisingly astute. So consider sleeping on a problem.
Or get yourself involved in an activity that takes your mind off a problem. Let your brain work through things in the background and you’re likely to develop clear answers.
–Set Aside Time to Reflect on Your Mistakes
Whether you left the house without an umbrella and got drenched on the way to work, or you blew your budget because you couldn’t resist an impulse purchase, set aside time to reflect on your mistakes.
Make it a daily habit to review the choices you made throughout the day. When your decisions don’t turn out well, ask yourself what went wrong. Look for the lessons that can be gained from each mistake you make.
Just make sure you don’t dwell on your mistakes for too long. Rehashing your missteps over and over again isn’t good for your mental health.
Keep your reflection time limited—perhaps 10 minutes per day is enough to help you think about what you can do better tomorrow. Then take the information you’ve gained and commit to making better decisions moving forward.