Decision Heuristics

The truth is most decisions are made in the past, and we’re just continuing to follow through with them. Some of which are unconscious, set like guard rails that never allow us to go too fast, or never too far. These are our fears, our beliefs about who we are and what we’re capable of.

Is this why people get so much out of the Army? You just need someone to reduce your ego’s protection enough and scream at you to jump higher, dig faster and do more pushups to show you that these boundaries are all created, and are self-limiting?

Then again…

It’s also the opposite. That each time a decision comes up, we’re on the fence. We don’t truly know who we are. Or we haven’t accepted ourselves as such. So, we deliberate – we have to spend time thinking through whether or not we’ll agree to a commitment or not, or if we’ll partake.

Like alcohol, or our diet, or working out.

Some people have just made decisions here. Like that they never drink alcohol, or that they eat Gluten Free or Vegan, or that they work out every single day.

These decisions make life easier.

Because they don’t get the after-the-event guilt of having made a choice that they aren’t sure they wanted. They don’t have to deliberate ever again about it. They know who they are, or at least who they’ve agreed to be.

Then again…

Some people love the indecision. They love taking the time weighing out the options. Like someone who’s booking a vacation, but never really attends because the excitement is better than the real thing. Or, someone who likes to pine through the menu at a restaurant, because the thought of the variety of options is just as fun as the selection. Which is OK, just don’t be surprised if you’re slow to make progress or movement.

So in our lives, there are decisions conscious and unconscious that we make continuously. To recognize these areas within yourself is to free up your life in advance.

First, recognize your limitations, and ask yourself if these guard rails are artificial? Let me answer that for you. They are. You can probably multiply whatever they are by 10x.

Like David Goggins, who ran a 100k race without training. I’m not saying we could all make it that far or we wouldn’t collapse on the way, but ask someone who doesn’t run regularly how many miles they could do, and the likely thing is they could do a bit more than they think.

Next, recognize that some decisions; when made in advance and made based on who you truly are; free up your life immensely.

Rather than deliberating every single night, there’s alcohol around you if you’ll give in or not, just make a decision. Or like Clay Christensen; “I don’t work on Sunday’s,” or “I’m at work by 8.” etc…

The point is you make one decision and the rest of your life you’re free from making it again. You’ve removed the guilt, worry, deliberation, and mostly time feeling conflicted.

Last, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the options. But be self-aware to realize that this is the slow route. That this is a bit like keeping life around you behind the glass. That you never really touch it but rather prefer to view it from the outside.

I suppose these are just mental heuristics. Frameworks of how we navigate the world; given that we’re surrounded by opportunities and choice. Some people need to just decide once and for all. All of us can go farther. And indecision is nice when it feels good, but if you want progress…

What decision will you make?

Share on Facebook or Twitter