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3-Ways To Make More Effective Decisions


"If it weren't for luck, I'd win every time" ~ Phil Hellmuth

Annie Duke is the third highest-earning female poker player in history. She once pursued a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania prior to her poker career. Annie views life like poker. The fundamental belief in keeping anxiety at bay is by adopting the mindset to be comfortable with the uncertainty of the end result. It's about making the best decisions based on the information that is in front of us and trusting them, over time, as the odds will be in our favor.

I am constantly intrigued by the topic of learning to make more effective decisions. I realize that I am being exposed to highly complex situations and variables such that I develop equally complex heuristics in helping me make the optimum decisions. While there are many tools out there, that help to moderate the error rates, I constantly find myself in situations where I need to make the most crucial decisions based on the limited information that I have. I am learning that the answer may be in probabilistic thinking. Can we think or explore multiple decisions? Are we only wired for one decision? How much of additional resources is required to create a consideration set of decisions? We only live in one reality, and so when we force ourselves to think about the future of numerous possibilities, it can be unsettling for some of us because it forces us to think about things we hope won't come true.

Learning to think probabilistically requires us to question our assumptions and live with uncertainty.

Can we think or explore multiple decisions? Are we only wired for one decision? How much of additional resources is required to create a consideration set of decisions? We only live in one reality, and so when we force ourselves to think about the future of numerous possibilities, it can be unsettling for some of us because it forces us to think about things we hope won't come true. Learning to think probabilistically requires us to question our assumptions and live with uncertainty.

Charles Duhigg in his book Smarter, Faster, Better, eloquently articulates the concept of Bayesian thinking, cognition, and philosophy. It is about improving background information, reviewing current context and checking our biases as we go along.

Following are 3-ways that we can consider to becoming more effective in our decision-making process.

1) Creating journal entries - While it is useful to journal good things that happened in our life, it can also be used to document bad decisions that we made for the day. It is an effective method to be self-conscious, self-reflective and attempt to explain specifics related to the decision made. It is ideal to explore this exercise with someone else who understands the significance of journaling. It is also an attempt to visualize the thinking of how and why the decision was made. What are the key factors that influenced the decision? What are the significant mistakes? How will we do it differently in the future? Why were we so confident things would turn out one way? Deconstructing the process helps us to proactively develop more accurate instincts and eliminate the recurrence of similar bad decisions.

2) ​Keep learning and growing holistically - We are never able to identify all the elements and variables that influence a decision. Most of us are laser focused on the risks that come from only talking to people who have succeeded in a mission or a project. In the psychology of entrepreneurship, successful entrepreneurs are not merely born from those who only focus on the success of others but also with stories from people who complain about their failures. This is where lies the secrets to learning how to make effective decisions.

"Accurate forecasting and making good choices requires exposing ourselves to as many successes and disappointments as possible" ~ Charles Duhigg.

3) Check assumptions - Do we constantly review and improve our assumptions? While in most cases I am conditioned to minimize assumptions or validate them adequately, I am also learning the importance to check the baselines of my assumptions. While making the decision, I update the assumptions to be current and revise the base rates, so that the decisions can be more accurate, impartial, suitable and relevant within the context of the problem that is being addressed. I find it imperative to visualize my thoughts and declare the assumptions that I am making.

Train and think probabilistically if we want to make more effective decisions. Continuing to expose ourselves to diverse options, both familiar and contradictory scenarios will allow us to assess risks and the significant outcomes. Finally, exposing ourselves to situations which allow us to be vulnerable to both failures and successes will allow us to develop intuition, aligned to a more accurate outcome.

What are you doing to improve your thoughts on decision making?

#DecisionMaking #JournalEntry #ProbabilisticThinking

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