Tag Archives: Decision Making

Take Control of Your Life

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.

“Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951) by William Hutchison Murray

If you want to make the most of your life, you have to be decisive. The opposite of decisiveness is not carefulness. It is hesitancy. If you dwell in doubt, you’ll never know what you want or what you need to do.

Hesitancy sucks your time and energy, your most important assets. Instead of using them to get things done, you’ll be wasting them.

Hesitancy is inefficiency. It sucks the life out of you. It kills you slowly.

Hesitancy Is Counter-Productive

Overanalyzing, overthinking, and being too cautious are all manifestations of hesitancy. They are counter-productive.

If you’re hesitant, you’ll never make any progress in your life. You’ll never accomplish anything significant. You’ll go with the flow and end up where life takes you. It might not be the place you want to be.

The alternative is to make firm decisions. To take your life into your own hands. Being crystal clear about what your intentions are, long term and short term. Knowing exactly what you want at every moment in your life and going after it.

Being Decisive Is Scary

Your decisions will have consequences, and you’ll have to deal with them. You can’t come up with excuses anymore. You can’t play the blame game. You can’t be the victim and beg for sympathy.

You’ll be vulnerable to failure. If you fail, there’s no one to blame but yourself. It requires a lot of courage. It might be out of your comfort zone. It might require willpower to follow up. You might risk public humiliation.

Are you ready to face all the consequences and to deal with them?

Flex Your Decision Muscle

Decisiveness is a mental muscle like courage and willpower. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. Like any muscle, start exercising it with appropriate weights.

Start with your everyday life. Can’t you decide whether to wear casual or formal? Don’t you know if you want to go to a cinema or a cafe? Can’t you choose between Asian and Italian for dinner?

Make a decision right then and there. If you don’t know, toss a coin. Then move on to heavier weights and flex your mental muscles on harder decisions.

If a decision is really hard, that means there isn’t much difference in both options. In that case, just toss a coin to decide on one option and follow up on that decision. That is way more productive than wallowing in hesitancy.

Be Decisive at Work

Sometimes, we have several tasks at work and don’t know which one to start with. We start with one, dabble on it a little, and move on to the next one. We switch back and forth between tasks without actually completing any one of them. That’s an excellent opportunity to flex our decision muscles.

Just pick one of the tasks and do not move on to another task before completing it. This can be painful if you don’t know how to tackle it but stay with it. When you do that, the solutions appear right in front of you, and you find a way to get it done.

Be Decisive in Life

“It would be nice if I lost some weight.” Convert that into a firm decision. “I am going to lose 50 pounds within a year.”

“It would be nice if I made more money.” That becomes “I am going to increase my income by 20% within a year.”

Set goals and make them crystal clear, so that when the deadline arrives, there’s no doubt whether you’ve achieved them or not.

Don’t worry if your decision muscle is weak now. Start with small decisions and work your way up to harder ones.

If you lack motivation, think about what’s worse. Making a firm decision, failing, and growing as a result or wallowing in hesitancy, waking up in your deathbed one day, and realizing that you’ve wasted your life?

An Analytical Way to Making Decisions and Solving Problems

“We cannot solve our problems with the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

That’s a quote attributed to Einstein and the idea behind today’s post. Today, I’ll discuss how to get to the higher level of thinking with which we can solve our problems.

Let me explain the low-level and high-level thinking on an example. This example might sound simple to you but bear with me. You can use the same approach successfully on more complex problems in your professional and private life.

A Sample Problem: Multiple File Hosting Services

At the moment, I use three different file hosting services, iCloud, OneDrive, and Google Drive. They came with my iPhone, MS Office, and Google account.

As a result, my files are scattered around in three different services. They’re also installed on my laptop, which makes it slower to boot.

That’s a problem, and I decided to solve that problem. Now, there are two approaches to solving that problem.

The Default Approach to Solving Problems

The default approach is to randomly choose one of the services, start moving files to that service in a haphazard manner, and start deleting files and software from my laptop and smartphone.

Can you see the problem with that?

With that approach, I can easily choose the wrong service, lose some important files, and end up with an incorrect configuration on my laptop or smartphone.

That might sound obvious to you, but more often than not, we follow that casual approach in solving problems, not only in trivial matters but also in critical professional endeavors. As a result, we create greater problems than we intend to solve.

“Today’s problems come from yesterday’s solutions.” Peter Senge

The Higher Level Thinking Approach to Solving Problems

In this approach, we go one level higher in our thinking. Instead of working on the problem directly, we work on the problem of solving the problem at hand.

The first step is to come up with the answer to the following question: “What’s the best way of solving this problem?” In my case, the answer is as follows.

  • Decide on a file hosting service.
  • Move the files to that hosting service.
  • Remove the duplicate files from my laptop, smartphone, and tablet.
  • Remove the unnecessary software from my laptop, smartphone, and tablet.

Now, that gives us a high-level breakdown of the solution. That’s one step toward the ideal solution, but still imperfect. Can you see why?

These four steps are too high-level to be executed directly. We need to break them down further.

Making the Right Decisions

The first step above is a decision. That might look like a simple decision to you, but I want to apply the same problem-solving technique in this step to demonstrate its use in decision making.

There are two ways to make a decision, instinctively vs. analytically. In the first approach, we make a decision without thinking, with our instincts, emotions, and intuitions.

If you developed your intuition in a field over the years, deciding on autopilot might be efficient for you, but most of the time, we don’t make the best decisions with this approach.

In his book Thinking Fast and Slow, Nobel Laurate behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman explains how our biases misguide our decision making when we operate on autopilot mode.

An Analytical Approach to Making Decisions

With the analytical approach, our goal is to overcome our biases and to make an informed decision. Here are the steps of the analytical approach.

  • Decide on a set of decision criteria.
  • Determine your options.
  • Analyze your options according to your decision criteria.
  • Choose the option that satisfies your criteria the most.

In my case, my decision criteria are the following.

  • 100 GB disk space
  • Price
  • Works on Windows and iOS
  • Preferably, a service that I’m already using
  • Preferably, a company that I haven’t paid yet

My options are the following.

  • iCloud
  • OneDrive
  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox

The option that satisfies all of my decision criteria is Google Drive. I don’t like the fact that I paid hundreds of euros to Apple and Microsoft and still have to pay them an extra for anything more than 5 GB disk space.

I don’t need the 1 TB disk space of Dropbox. Therefore, I don’t want to pay an extra 80 euro each year for a service I won’t use.

Google is probably using my files to collect data about me to show me personalized ads, but I’m fine with that. So, my final decision is Google Drive.

Break Down Solution Steps into Action Items

I need to break down the remaining three steps before I start to execute them.

Move the files to Google Drive.

  • Move the files in OneDrive to Google Drive. This is a cut and paste operation on my laptop.
  • Backup the photo and video files in my iPhone to Google Drive.
  • Make sure there aren’t any photo and video files in my iCloud that aren’t backed up to Google Drive.

Remove the duplicate files from my laptop, smartphone, and tablet.

  • Remove the photo and video files from my iCloud.
  • Remove the photo and video files from my iPad.

Remove the unnecessary software from my laptop, smartphone, and tablet.

  • Remove iCloud from my laptop.
  • Remove OneDrive from my laptop.
  • Stop backing up my photo and video files to iCloud.
  • Set up my iPhone to back up my photo and video files to Google Drive.

When to Use the Default Approach

In some cases, writing down the solution steps might feel like too much work to you. You might be tempted to skip it and attack the problem at hand right away. Sometimes, you might save some time with the default approach when solving trivial problems.

More often than not, we underestimate the challenges we face. We attack the problem head first. As a result, we either end up in a dead end or create a problem that’s greater than the one we tried to solve.

In most cases, except the trivial ones, it pays off to write down a general overview of how we’re going to solve the problem hand. In more complicated cases, we can treat each step as a problem in itself and break it down into further steps.

You can go into as much detail as you want until you reach clear action steps. Don’t worry about wasting time planning, because as Brian Tracy says “every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution.” That’s an approximation of course, but it gives you a good idea.

Conclusion

Our default reaction to problems and decisions is to dive head first into them. That results in greater problems in the future.

We can improve our decision making by coming up with decision criteria, determining our options, analyzing our options according to the decision criteria, and choosing the option that satisfies our criteria the most.

We can solve our problems effectively by writing down the solution steps and breaking down each step until we come up with clear action items.

The analytical way of making decisions and solving problems seems to be a lot of work, but it prevents us from greater problems in the future.

How to Optimize Your Decision Making Process

Making a decision is one of the most exhausting mental processes. Making a series of decisions drains your brain and as a result, the quality of your decisions plummet. This phenomenon is called decision fatigue.

A successful life requires a lot of quality decision making, but we have a limited capacity for decision making. That is a problem and that problem can be solved by optimizing our decision making process. I will discuss several methods to optimize our decision making process. If you have other methods or ideas, please let me know in the comments.

No decision is (most of the time) the worst decision.

Decisiveness is a personality trait of successful people. Successful people make a decision, act on it, and then deal with the results.

  • Make a decision,
  • Act on it,
  • And deal with the results.

You might think that the opposite of that sequence would be

  • Don’t make a decision,
  • Stay put,
  • And don’t deal with the results.

That second sequence might look more attractive to you, because you don’t need to make the mental effort to make a decision. You don’t need to make the physical effort to take action. And most important, you don’t need to deal with the results. This is an illusion.

While you’re staying put, the world is moving in all kinds of directions. Time is passing. Your time on this earth is limited. That means, not making a decision is a decision itself. It has its results and you have to deal with those results.

In some rare cases, not making a decision can be the better decision. The so called “wait-and-see” approach might be the superior approach in some chaotic situations, but most of the time, it’s the worst decision.

Think about choosing between two job offers for example. If you hesitate between two offers for too long, you’ll end up losing both offers as they might be filled with other candidates. If you hesitate between two vacation options for too long, you will end up spending your vacation at home.

I have hundreds of ideas in my notebooks. I pick one every day and write a blog post about it. If I hesitate too long between different ideas, I might end up with no blog post on that day.

In summary, making no decision is a decision and it is most of the time the worse decision. If you can’t make a decision, write down your options, eliminate the less desirable ones, and choose one of the remaining ones randomly. You can find more about that in my post called From Hesitant to Decision Maker in Four Simple Steps.

Automate Your Decisions

You might have heard about Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Albert Einstein wearing the same clothes every day. The reason they are doing that is to eliminate one more decision from their daily routine. Remember every decision you make takes away from your limited capacity to make decisions in the rest of the day.

You can automate some simple decisions such as what you’re going to wear and what you’re going to eat. I don’t wear the same shirt every day, but my shirt choosing process is fairly simple. Just wear the left most shirt in the wardrobe.

You can automate your day further by establishing a daily routine. I have a daily routine where all the activities such as eating, writing, working out are fixed in time and duration. I don’t a have a strict schedule, but I more or less know when I’m going to start that activity, what I’m going to do during that activity, and how long it’s going to take.

Having a daily routine is especially useful at work. You can allocate different chunks of your time to different activities and repeat the same routine every day. That way you never have to think about what you’re going to do next.

Another area I use automated decision making is saving and investing. I have a fixed amount that I save every month and invest that in an index fund and bitcoin. This automated saving and investing system eliminates all the emotions from the investing process and prevents me from making those costly investment mistakes.

Not having to think about what to do next saves a lot of decision making capacity, which you can use in other, more important decisions throughout the day.

The Downside of Automating Your Decisions

The downside of having a daily routine is creating a comfort zone around it and never improving it. Even though it saves considerable mental energy to have a fixed daily routine, you might want to adjust it according to the changing conditions in your life.

You might want to update your processes from time to time. Being too strict results in guaranteed failure and innovation must be a part of your job, business, and life. Daily evaluations are a part of my daily journaling practice and they help me make the necessary course corrections.

How to Increase Your Decision Making Capacity

Using your decision making capacity efficiently is a critical part of optimizing your decision making. Another critical part of that is to increase your decision making capacity.

Decision making is a muscle. You can increase your decision making capacity by training your decision making muscles. Just make a list of decisions to be made and commit to make at least one of those decisions every day.

Remember, not making a decision is most of the time the worst decision. If you can’t decide between two or more options, they are equally good or bad. It’s more important to deal with the consequences of a decision than to make the decision. Just toss a coin if you have to, which is much better than not deciding at all.

Mindfulness

Decision making is a muscle and there can be a lot of thoughts, emotions, and distractions weighing in on that muscle. You can make your best decisions when you have mental clarity. You can achieve mental clarity by letting go of your useless thoughts, emotions, and distractions.

North Star, Values, and Clear Goals

Having a north star, an ideal, a well-defined life goal that you are striving towards can make your decision making process extremely easy. Having clear goals and values can guide your decision making process.

When you have more than one option when making a decision, just evaluate each option for how they serve your north star, your values, and your goals. Once you do this exercise and you’re honest with yourself, the choice will be obvious.

It’s one thing that the right choice is obvious and it’s another thing to actually make that decision and follow up on it with your actions. If you’re struggling with that, you might want to work on your self-discipline and courage.

Summary

The quality and quantity of your decisions are a critical factor in your success in your life. You can optimize your decision making process with the following methods.

  • Know that no decision is (most of the time) the worst decision and make a random decision if you can’t make your mind.
  • Automate your decisions by creating daily routines. Don’t forget to update your daily routine as needed to avoid stagnation.
  • Increase your decision making capacity by using and training your decision making muscle.
  • Increasing your mental clarity with mindfulness.
  • Have a north star. Have a clear set of values and goals to guide your decisions.

Disclosure and Disclaimer

I owned some SPY and BTC at the moment of writing this post. This post is for information purposes only and not intended to be investment advice.

Bias for Action

Act on an idea even if you aren’t sure you’ll succeed, if it promises secondary benefits such as new ideas, connections, experience, and more courage and self-discipline.

Doing nothing is more valuable than distraction and busy work. Activities that have no value not only waste your time, they also waste your attention and mental energy. Attention and mental energy are even more scarce than time. Once they are spent, it takes time to recuperate them.

Doing nothing is better than distraction and busy work, because at least, it doesn’t waste our attention and mental energy. Moreover, doing nothing allows our minds to process and organize all the information we have consumed.

Doing nothing allows our minds to process and organize all the information we have consumed.

Distraction and busy work are low value activities. They produce little or no value per unit time and energy. If you are used to distraction and busy work, you might have a difficult time to come up with valuable activities. In that case, it makes sense to take a break and reflect on your long term goals.

What would be the most valuable action to take right now with respect to your long term goals?

In other words:

Which action could you take right now that would move you the most towards your long term goals?

If you can’t come up with a precise answer, come up with a dozen of ideas. Write all of them down. If you aren’t sure about any of those ideas, pick the one that would make the most difference. Act on that idea even if you aren’t sure it would work.

The idea either works and you make significant progress towards your goals or it doesn’t and you eliminate an idea from your list, which makes your decision easier next time. However, there’s more to it.

Cherry on Top

When you act on an idea and you fail, you gain experience. If it involves other people, you extend your network. If it’s a public activity, you increase your profile. Moreover, you expose yourself to new opportunities. You might come across new ideas. People you reach out to can give you a new direction.

It’s always a good idea to take action even if you aren’t sure that it will produce the results you’re aiming for. There’s a catch though. The activity shouldn’t be a distraction, which is an activity that doesn’t produce any value at all. The activity shouldn’t also be busy work, an activity that produces only marginal value and that is something you are already familiar with, which doesn’t improve your skills.

Criteria to Consider

When you’re choosing an idea from your list, think about the cherry on top.

  • Would this idea produce any value even if it fails its main objective?
  • Would it lead to new ideas?
  • New connections?
  • New Skills?
  • More courage?
  • More self-discipline?
  • New experiences?
  • Higher public profile?

If you answer one or more of these questions positively, then go ahead and do it anyway, even if you know it will likely fail. This is called bias for action and it’s much better than distraction, busy work, and doing nothing.

Summary

Doing nothing is better than distraction and busy work. Acting on selected ideas is even better than doing nothing. The criteria here is the cherry on top, the secondary benefits even if the main benefit fails to materialize.

Miserable or Peaceful, All by Your Assumptions

Your assumptions can make you feel miserable. Your assumptions can also make you feel peaceful. The difference is how well your assumptions match the reality.

Loss Aversion

Here’s an example. One of our biases as humans is loss aversion. $100 lost hurts more than $100 won makes us happy. That bias is ingrained in our psychology over billions of years of evolution. Like all the other biases and logical fallacies, the best way to handle it is to become aware of it and to consciously work on it to let it go.

Loss aversion is an assumption that is guaranteed to make us miserable over time. It is also guaranteed to make us lose money over time. Loss aversion makes us avoid investing because of the inherent risk. However, we know that savings in fiat currency such as USD and euro will lose some of their value over time. Loss aversion actually makes us lose a portion of our savings.

Perfect Trader

Another assumption that makes us feel miserable is that a good investor must know which asset will appreciate the most, when, and how much. When we make that assumption we try to find that asset, we try to time the market, and we start trading. As we know, human psychology is our worst enemy when trading and as a result, we lose money.

More Realistic Assumptions

How can we replace the loss aversion bias and the perfect trader assumption?

We can do that by replacing them with other assumptions.

  1. Savings in fiat currency such as USD and euro will lose some of their value over time.
  2. No one can find the asset that will appreciate the most, when, and how much.

When you make the two assumptions above, your investment decisions become trivial. All you have to do is to build a strategy on top of them.

  1. Invest savings in cash to a diversified portfolio, such as S&P 500 index funds, over time using dollar cost averaging.
  2. Don’t sell unless you need the money.

Possible Outcomes

By investing the cash, the savings are prevented from losing their value over time due to inflation. That satisfies the first assumption. Holding a diversified portfolio satisfies the second assumption. We don’t try to find the asset that would appreciate the most. Dollar cost averaging also satisfies the second assumption, because we don’t try to time the market.

By not selling unless we need the money, we avoid trading, because the more we trade, the more we lose. S&P500 index funds are already diversified, but a portfolio can be further diversified using other assets.

Like all realistic scenarios, the scenario above also has its risks. The main risk is the market crashing after you have invested the maximum amount. This is a realistic scenario. But the history has shown us that the markets have recovered after crashes and reached new highs. That’s why we have the last part, don’t sell unless you need money.

If you accept the fact that losing money is inherent in having savings in every scenario, loss aversion loses its meaning, because there is always a risk of losing money, no matter what you do. You can’t do anything about it. It’s outside of your control. Once you accept that fact, you stop feeling miserable about it and you have peace of mind.

Your Turn

Do you feel miserable in a certain area of your life?

Whenever you feel bad in a certain area of your life, ask yourself the following question.

  1. Which assumption do I make that makes me feel miserable?
  2. Does this assumption match the reality?
  3. Which assumption can I adopt that matches the reality more?

Once you accept the reality completely, align your assumptions with it, and act on those assumptions, you will stop feeling miserable, and have peace of mind.

Disclosure

This post is for information purposes only and not intended to be investment advice.

Cherry on Top

Cherry on top is a concept discussed in the book Business Brilliant by Lewis Schiff. Cherry on top refers to the benefits you receive even if a project fails.

If you can’t decide whether to start a project or not, make a list of all the benefits even if the project details. Here are some examples:

  • Know how
  • Experience
  • Extended network
  • One less item to consider when starting a new project
  • The potential to come across to a more promising project while working on this project

My Cherry on Top

I have been publishing a blog post per day for the last 50 days. My success metric for this blog is the number of email newsletter subscribers. At the beginning of the 50 days, that was the only benefit I could see. After 50 days, I see more benefits.

Mental Clarity

I come across a lot of interesting ideas. I also come up with some interesting ideas. These are the lessons I have learned from books, audiobooks, and other resources as well as from my own experience. Some of these ideas seem to be contradicting with each other.

The best way to find out which ideas are more rational and realistic is to write them down and to reflect on them. That way I can weed out the contradicting ones and stick to the ones that match the reality the most.

Learning My Life Lessons

It’s really easy to install software to a computer. It’s not the same with our minds. It takes a lot of repetitions to learn a lesson. If I don’t write down an interesting idea, it will be gone for sure.

The best way to learn the life lessons on an unconscious competence level is to write them down and read them over and over until I can act on them on an unconscious competence level.

Self-Discipline

I don’t need to publish a blog post a day to achieve mental clarity and to learn my life lessons. I could do that by journaling them. However, publishing a blog post per day gives me accountability. I did it through very busy days, including traveling overseas, as well as in holidays, when I felt like doing nothing productive at all. Would I journal on those busy or lazy days? Probably, not. That is another life lesson there.

Public accountability increases self-discipline.

Coming Up with New Ideas

As I’m writing down and reflecting on existing ideas, I come up with new ideas. Ideas breed ideas. Projects breed projects and the cycle continues. Better opportunities show up only when you use the opportunity that is in front of you. And as trivial as it may seem, publishing your ideas on a blog is an opportunity you must use.

Better opportunities show up only when you use the opportunity that is in front of you.

Feedback

I don’t claim to be the smartest, most rational man on earth. By putting my ideas out there, I welcome comments. That might not always be positive. If someone comes up with a rational counterargument that is more realistic than mine, I’m happy to accept it. That’s how I make progress. So, your feedback and comments on my posts are always welcome.

Summary

Publishing a blog post per day has several benefits for me, such as mental clarity, learning my lessons, and receiving feedback. I invite you to start your public blog as well to reap those benefits. Moreover, whenever you doubt whether to start a new project or not, think about the benefits you will receive even if the project fails.

How to Reverse Engineer Your Life

In yesterday’s post, I’ve explained how to set life goals that relate to your core desires and to your reality. That post was about finding a direction in your life. Today’s post will be about creating a perspective in your life.

Ideally, you need to have both, a direction and a perspective. With a direction, you know where you’re going. With a perspective, you know how to get there. Choosing your direction and perspective consciously will boost your satisfaction and success in life. You can use the reverse engineering exercise on any goal, but it is especially effective on big, audacious life goals.

The Intuitive Way of Approaching Goals

When we set a goal, we carry out the first action step that comes the most naturally to us. This is the most intuitive thing to do when we set a goal that we are enthusiastic about. That is definitely more effective than doing nothing at all. Nevertheless, if we don’t get any significant results, we might get demotivated and give up on our goal.

The Effective Way of Approaching Goals

Reverse engineering is the complete opposite of what comes naturally to us. In this method, we don’t start from the beginning, but we start from the end and we work our way backwards. At every step, we ask ourselves the following question.

“What needs to happen in order to realize this goal?”

Once we find an answer to the question above, we ask the same question for the answer we found. We keep asking this question, until we come up with an action step that can be immediately executed. Let’s work on an example where our life goal is financial freedom.

  • What needs to happen in order to achieve financial freedom?
    • My savings should cover my expenses for the rest of my life.
  • What needs to happen in order to grow my savings to that level?
    • I need to increase my income.
    • I need to save regularly a significant amount of my income.
    • I need to build a diversified portfolio of investments.
  • What needs to happen in order to increase my income?
    • I need to get a promotion or find a better paying job.
  • What needs to happen in order to get a promotion or to find a better paying job?

If you continue the reverse engineering process above, you might come up with the following immediate action steps. As you see, we create three different goals at the second step. If you create multiple goals at any step, make sure to apply the reverse engineering process to all the goals that you create at any step, so that you can reach the immediate action steps for each of them.

  • Contact the Human Resources Department to determine the skill set needed for a promotion.
  • Save 10% of my income.
  • Spend at least half an hour every day to learn more about building a diversified portfolio.

The Effects of Reverse Engineering on Your Mind

With the reverse engineering process, you not only discover your immediate action steps, but you also see how your immediate action steps are connected to your final goal. This keeps you from getting demotivated if you don’t get any results from your immediate action steps.

“Working from the end goal backwards gives your deep mind the signal that the goal is already accomplished.”

Reverse engineering also puts you in another frame of mind. Working from the end goal backwards gives your deep mind the signal that the goal is already accomplished. That prevents your deep mind from coming up with all kinds of obstacles. If you start from the beginning and work your way forwards, your deep mind unconsciously eliminates the steps that are outside of your comfort zone. At the end, you come up with a first action step that is the most comfortable to you, but not necessarily the most effective one. With the reverse engineering technique, you don’t have any excuses but to find the most effective step that you can come up with. There’s no chance to fool yourself.

Summary / Call to Action

The intuitive way of approaching goals is to start from where you are and work your way towards your goal. When you use that approach, your mind discards actions that are outside of your comfort zone and comes up with the actions that you are familiar with.

The effective way of approaching goals is the other way around, start from the end and work your way back to where you are now. This gives your deep mind the signal that you have already achieved your goal. You let your deep mind figure out the logical steps between your goal and where you are now. This method prevents your mind from discarding the action steps that are outside of your comfort zone.

Apply the reverse engineering process on a goal and let us know how it works for you.

The Fallacy of Extremism

Extremism is on the rise, because only extreme ideas cut through the noise of the Internet. Common sense wisdom gets lost in that noise. Extremism is a product of mental laziness. It not only hurts communities and nations, it also hurts individuals, even the most sensible ones. At this moment, you might have strong convictions without even realizing them and they might be holding you back.

Context

Back in the day, we had relatively few publishers and mainstream media, run by relatively sensible people. What they published was boring, but most of it was the common sense middle way. No one dared to say anything extreme. Saying something extreme meant being branded as an extremist and losing all of your publication venues.

The Internet changed everything. Now every laptop, tablet, and smartphone is a media company. People can publish whatever they want and they do it. In this overcrowded space, only extreme ideas stand out. People don’t follow the leaders with the most sensible ideas. They follow the “influencers” with the most radical ideas or the online marketers with the Lamborghinis, private planes, and helicopters.

How It All Applies to You

The ticket to make a quick buck or get the office seems to find the most extreme version of an idea and publish as much as possible about it on social media. If you want to live a good life though, don’t follow that advice, because as we all know, life isn’t about extreme ideas. Life is about balance and finding that sensible middle way, that sweet spot that produces the most results. It’s not about working for 18 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, you will find a lot of “influencers” online that say that to stand out on social media.

Extremes almost never work. People fall into the fallacy of extremism, because they like to think their options are binary. That makes their decision process easy. In the past, I oscillated between drinking no coffee at all or drinking a lot of it. I oscillated between switching off the heating at night or letting it at the same temperature as day. I spent either at least an hour a day on social media or did not check it at all. I either didn’t work out at all or worked out twice a day. There were times I didn’t listen to any music at all while working or I listened to heavy metal.

None of the extremes above worked for me. Even though I liked the idea of having extreme decisions and the false sense of pride they gave me, I stopped acting on those decisions after a while. I realized that the sweet spots between those extremes worked better for me. Now, I drink two cups of coffee in the morning, check what’s going on in my friends circle once a day on social media, listen to Baroque music while working, work out four times a week, and turn down the heating a few degrees at night. These are the sweet spots that work for me, among many others.

Call to Action

I invite you to take a good look at your life and see the decisions and choices you have to make. What are your options? If you happen to find only two extreme options, remember that most of the time there are more options in between them. Those are the sweet spots that might work the best for you and for the situation that you find yourself in.

Moreover, I invite you to take a good critical look at all the information that you receive from social media. If the information seems to be extreme, take it with a grain of salt and look at the motivation of the people behind the information. You might see that they are trying to market a product or to promote their agenda.

Remember, the truth, what works the best, is most of the time somewhere between the extremes. Those sweet spots might be a little harder to find compared to sticking with the extremes, but at the end of the day, those are the ones that produce the best results.

From Hesitant to Decision Maker in Four Simple Steps

In his classic book Managing Oneself, Peter F. Drucker explains many dimensions of self awareness. These dimensions include how you learn, how you work with others, what your values are, and so on. The idea is to get to know yourself in each dimension and work from your strengths.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who isn’t retired yet. It gave me a lot of a-ha moments about my working life. I wonder why this book isn’t a required reading in all corporations.

Working from your strengths and avoiding your weaknesses is a common self-management advice. However, Drucker adds a little twist to that. He says spot your deadliest weaknesses and fix them. I agree with him on that.

One of the dimensions in Managing Oneself is being a decision maker vs being an adviser. This was an eye-opener for me. I realized that I was a complete adviser and not a decision maker, unless the situation was so obvious that it was impossible to make the decision.

Frankly, I don’t agree with Peter Drucker on accepting who you are on being a decision maker vs being an adviser. In my experience, decision makers get further in their lives and careers, compared to advisers. If you want to make the most of your life, you have to become a decision maker. The opposite is to flounder in hesitation, stay where you are, and not enjoy what life has to offer. And yes, it is completely possible to become a decision maker, even if you are the worst case of an adviser, that is hesitating all the time, analyzing the situation thoroughly, but never daring to pull the trigger.

I have not a single doubt that the road to success passes through making a lot of decisions. Deciding and acting on your decisions produce way better results than hesitating and over-analyzing. The question then is “how are you going to become a decision maker?” Keep on reading for my take on that.

How to Become a Decision Maker

You have probably heard the saying “Good decisions come from experience and experience comes from bad decisions.” That is exactly what we are going to do. We are just going to decide and act on our decisions. We have two options when we do that. We either make a good decision and succeed. Or we will make a bad decision and gain some experience. In both cases, we win. So, there’s no way to lose as long as we keep making those decisions.

By not deciding, you are actually making the worst decision. Indecision results in inertia. In a world that advances so fast staying where you are too long means you are actually falling behind.

Step 1. Find a Decision that Needs to be Made

So, how do we become a decision maker? The first step is to become aware that you are actually hesitating. Most of the time, we aren’t even aware of our own condition until somebody or an event points it out to us. Take a look at your life or work and see where you are hesitating. Where are you postponing a decision?

Step 2. Determine All the Options

When you find a decision to be made, the second step is to write down all the possible options. In some cases, you have two options, yes or no. In others, you have more options to choose from. Once you have come up with the options, write down quickly three arguments for each option. If this process seems to take too long for you. Give yourself an hour to complete it. Not any more than that. At the end of one hour, you will have formulated the decision to be made, your options, and three arguments for each option.

Step 3. Decide or Let the Universe Decide for You

Once you have completed the analysis above, see if the decision is obvious to you. Can you make a decision now? If not, don’t waste any more time and proceed with the next step. Give a number to each option. Then go to random.org and pick a random number between 1 and the total number of options on your list. Congratulations, you have made your decision. You have let random.org made your decision. This is it. There is really nothing more to it. This is all there is to decision making.

Yes, I know. Right now, you are sick to your stomach, but believe me the decision that random.org made for you is a much better decision than your default decision, which was your indecision. Let me explain. If you hesitate between two or more options, that means each option is equally good or equally bad. So actually, there is no way for you to find out which option is better unless you decide on one of them and play it out in real world.

Step 4. Act on Your Decision

I’m going to repeat it again, because this is crucial, life changing information. If you hesitate between two or more options, that means each option is equally good or equally bad. There is no way for you to find out which option is better unless you decide, act on that decision, and see the results in the real world. For that reason, what matters is not making a decision as you might think. “What matters is dealing with the results of the decisions you make,” as Michael Neill explains in his book Supercoach. For that reason, just make a decision and act on it. Toss a coin if you have to and suppose that God or the Universe made the decision for you and trust that it will be in your best interest whatever the outcome.

The good news is as you keep making decisions, you get used to it. You improve your decision making muscles and your fear of decision disappears. Hopefully, you will come to a point, when you won’t have any hesitancy in you. You make decisions on autopilot without even thinking about them and make progress with light-speed. Go for it!