We as humans have a major advantage over all other living beings:
The power of our imagination.
We can imagine the future and possible outcomes and go through multiple scenarios of any given action. That is quite amazing and some of us are specialists in that.
What has this to do with making decisions you might ask? Let me explain:
Imagine yourself preparing for a date. You’ve just met this guy or girl and you don’t really know what she or he likes. You want to choose a place for the first date and you are searching the web for the perfect local restaurants. Your search returns about 20 restaurants at your price level. How would you choose the right one?
You don’t really know much about your date, so whatever you choose might be right or wrong.
There is just no good way to find out.
You want to come over as a confident person, so asking your date to make a choice is out of the question.
In the end you decide on one restaurant and you hope it’s the right one.
So how do we normally make decisions?
If you are aware of it or not, our brain scans through all possible scenarios based on the data it has available and we select the one which feels as the one with the best possible outcome.
Let’s say you want to really impress with the choice you’ve made, you might choose a restaurant with great entertainment. If it is not going so well, at least you both have a good time because of the entertainment.
If you are more the romantic type, you might choose one that is more quiet and private in its nature, so you can play your act to the fullest without being disturbed.
However, your decision will always be based on your prediction of the best possible outcome and you might be right or wrong.
If this is only one of many dates, you might not put so much weight on your choice, because if it does not work, the next date will come.
But what if there is more pressure on you to make this date work?
Would that change your choice?
For many these kind of decisions make them get stuck in an endless loop. Because they see the choice of restaurant as such an important factor for their success and they just haven’t got enough data to make that one decision.
Lets change the scenario. Let’s say you live in a smaller town and there is only one good restaurant. Would you still think about the right choice of restaurant? Of course not, there is only one possibility and there is no point in thinking about it. You brain will take that restaurant as a fact and play its scenarios with the given details. Of course there can still be good or bad outcomes, but the choice of restaurant has nothing to do with it.
Based on my studies, most successful people have a very good process dealing with these kind of situations. They understand that choice is a distractor from what you want to achieve. Reducing the choices to the most important ones is key in this process. Does the outcome of your date really depend on the restaurant you choose?
So how can you make the right decisions?
- Have a clear idea of the expected outcome.
- Play the scenario backwards. It’s like playing a video in reverse. This will reduce it to only a few possible scenarios.
- Select a maximum of 3 ways to get to the expected outcome… and then choose one. (The number 3 is the key here. Keep everything within that range. If you need to decide on a restaurant, choose out of three, not more. If you need to decide on a dress or shirt, choose out of three. Our brain has the least problem to come to a quick decision if only 3 options are involved.)
Now you have a good starting point in finding your personal way of making good decisions.
Enjoy your date 🙂
About the Author: John DiSTEFANO is one of Your Monthly Mentors.He started his first company in 1993 in Germany and has been an entrepreneur ever since. His businesses ranged from Advertising over Marketing and Sales to IT to mention the main areas. In 2014 John formed the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium with the aim to provide a platform for entrepreneurs to grow, learn and practise. He is actively involved in many student organisations throughout Europe and regularly invited to talk about entrepreneurship. Read More…