When you can’t decide what to do
Are you dithering over a decision? Sometimes it can be really hard to finally take the plunge.
Here are two interesting tools to help you that I heard about recently on one of my favorite radio programs: More or Less (on BBC Radio 4).
Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame is doing an experiment to see if this tool helps people in making decisions. He says that many of us are stuck in a rut and are too reluctant to try something new. This leads to bad decision-making.
Though many people try to be logical in making decisions, you make most of your decisions using your emotions. We know this because of research using people who have suffered brain damage making them unable to feel emotions. They have great difficulty making decisions – even things like deciding what time a dentist appointment should be.
We don’t like change
Steven Levitt says not enough people quit or change. You tend to think that it would be easier carry on for now, with whatever it is you are doing, and postpone any change till tomorrow. It’s more comfortable that way.
Regrets, I’ve had a few
I’m sure you’ve heard people saying that they regret not making the most of opportunities they have had in the past.
So he suggests that ask yourself which outcome would leave you with the least regret. This is a very interesting slant on thinking about a decision and uses your emotions in an effective way.
The coin toss
Another great tool he recommends is the coin toss. This forces you to make your
decision. I’ve used it many times myself and with clients. It can be remarkably effective for really working out what you want.
On his site, he will actually do it for you. You put your question into a page on his website and he tosses a web-based coin. Then the site follows up later to see if you are pleased with your decision. Surprisingly, over 40,000 people have used this site to make their decisions so far.
Most people are pleased with this decision
It turns out that, though he hasn’t got enough evidence to analyze the benefits of making decisions in all scenarios yet there is one where he does have enough evidence. It’s from people trying to decide if they should go on a diet. Apparently most of the people who decided to go ahead with the diet as a result of the coin toss were pleased with their decision.
Here’s the site if you’d like to try it.