Do you know that there are thousands of decisions we make every day? Average adults face a multitude of decisions every day, from what to eat, what to buy, where to shop, and what to post online, it is often difficult to make the right choice because of this. It’s not the overwhelming number of choices that are scary. It’s the possibility of making the wrong decision.
Do not let your anxiety level fool you into believing that it is the factor that will help you decide about risk. You may not be able to trust your feelings. Your thoughts will not be as logical if you feel more emotion than normal. To balance your emotional reactions, increase your rational thinking about the risk.
Are there any right ways to make better decisions in your life and at work? How important is emotion in decision-making? Are we able to control our emotions in order to achieve the desired results?
Herbert Simon is an American Nobel Laureate scientist who stated, “To have any kind of complete theory about human rationality, one must understand the role that emotion plays in it.”
Do Not Let Emotions Sabotage Your Decisions.
“Don’t let your emotions overweigh your intelligence.”
When I get emotional, I can jump to absurd conclusions. I am like everyone else; they sometimes get the better of me. It’s embarrassing, especially when I make any type of stupid decision.
It can be challenging to know when emotions cloud your judgement. We get carried away by our primitive instincts and end up saying, “All that I see is red when I am angry .” As an adult, this can be a serious problem.
Imagine a time when you were making important decisions at work or contemplating big expenses such as buying a home, making significant financial investments, or starting a business. These decisions can be complex and overwhelming, regardless of your experience. These emotional reactions can help us focus our energy and attention on the most important aspects. However, intense emotions can lead to misguided or even disastrous decisions.
You want to maximize your chances of success if you are going to take a chance, especially if it could affect your well-being. Most people will choose the option that causes them the least amount of anxiety. Be aware of your thoughts about taking on the risk. Make sure that you base your decision on facts and not feelings.
When humans are only guided by their emotions, they make terrible decisions (which quickly vanish). It’s almost like wearing horse blinders. The only thing that we focus on is what’s in front of our eyes. This is then filtered through any emotion we feel. We are blind to the many other inputs that could assist us in better managing the situation.
The Science of Decision-Making
Famous psychologist Daniel Kahneman explained that the brain has two systems that work together whenever we make a decision.
The first system handles quick, automatic answers. Let’s say, for example, you are asked to answer the question “like a hot knife through ______”. You probably answered “butter” quickly. This is system #1 at work. The other is responsible for more complicated problems, like how to parallel park or advanced mathematical formulas.
Systems one and two work together seamlessly to help us make decisions every time. We tend to make poor choices when our focus or mental energy is low. This happens if we are feeling stressed, lacking sleep, or have been thinking too much. Sometimes we regret making poor choices or saying things that we regret.
Six emotions will guarantee that you make bad decisions.
Guess what they are.
Try to think of as many as possible before you continue reading. Consider the last time you made an error in your decision. What emotions were running through your mind?
These are the bad guys behind poor decision-making.
Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, Tiredness, Pain and Stress.
Making Better Decisions
Can we make better decisions despite being so emotional? It is possible with patience and practice. These are some tips to help you get started.
Take a moment to assess the situation.
This simple act will save you headaches later. Allow your brain to assess the situation and make the best decision. This tactic can be used when:
- A complicated question is being asked of you
- You feel agitated and may snap at another person
- Your response could make the difference between gain and loss.
- You fear that you might say something that you will regret later.
You might want to spend more time weighing your options for more significant decisions, such as marriage or a career change. You can use your weekend to go hiking or meditate. You will be able to think clearly about each option and consider the pros and cons. For situations where you need quick answers, pausing for another second can help you give better answers – and not be snarky.
Do not always trust your gut.
Our most fundamental instinct is intuition, also known as “gut feeling”. It allows us to recognize environmental cues and helps us avoid danger to survive. This human sense is not to be trusted when it comes down to games of chance (i.e., situations that depend on a 50/50 chance of success). Gambling and the stock exchange are two of the best examples.
You can rely on your gut instinct when there are skills and experience.
Take, for example:
Although you’re open to moving to the nonprofit sector, your financial experience is limited. You are worried about making the wrong decision. Tip:
- Take a moment to think before you make your final decision.
- Consider how you feel about the job.
- List the pros and cons that could occur if you make the move. If you feel an uncanny sense of security, your gut is likely telling you to take control and get your dream job.
If you feel that you might be lucky, don’t play poker. You might lose more in games of chance because they don’t require a skill.
Write it down.
James W. Pennebaker, the psychologist, has highlighted how writing can help us better understand ourselves, track our growth, and even aid us in making the right decisions. Writing down your emotions can help you see things from a new perspective if you are at a crossroads in your life or have been through a difficult situation.
Although you won’t feel any better immediately, it is possible to keep track of your days and use them as therapy. It’s easy and free; you have some time to yourself, and you can revisit your thoughts later for greater clarity.
Limit your options.
Have you ever wondered why Trader Joe’s has limited their grocery selections? The bigger the selection, the more room there is to make a regrettable decision; this is not true for every case. Although it may seem counterintuitive, narrowing down your choices will help you avoid making mistakes later.
Let’s assume you are a recent graduate with many talents. You can communicate your ideas to 100 executives and write 500-word articles. You can do a lot of different jobs. It’s not a good idea to send out multiple resumes to all companies at once. You may not be selected for the job if your application does not reflect your best talents.
These questions can be answered by focusing on just two or three companies.
- These are the reasons you would like to work at these companies.
- Are you qualified to hold the job you are about to fill?
- What is their benefits/compensation package?
- Which experience do you hope to gain?
- What length of time do you plan to stay?
- How much do you think you will be hired above other candidates?
You will be less stressed by narrowing down your choices. Science also says that you will be happier with the decision you make.
Ask for the majority.
Bias is a common trait in humans. While these biases may help us form opinions, it is not wise to use them when making decisions. For example, confidence is a wonderful trait, and this allows us to see things positively and promote our talents. We can become too confident about the skills we have acquired over time. You will be surprised how many of the most influential leaders and managers make mistakes.
Asking for a second opinion is a great way to make the right decision, especially if there are high risks involved. Take this example:
Surprisingly, the leader of your organization doesn’t approve of this crowdfunding video. He believes it doesn’t represent the group’s vision. You are upset because you have spent so many hours working on this project. Now you have two options: either upload it to the video platform without his permission or call for a meeting.
Trust your intuition and gut feelings, but not just your experience. This is because we often overlook important details that could affect the final outcome due to our overconfidence.
Are you facing a difficult decision? Dr. Lynda Shaw, a cognitive neuroscientist, suggests sleeping on it.
While we all know that sleep is essential, many still work late, watch too much TV, or scroll through social media. There are many benefits to getting enough sleep, but the most important is that a good night’s sleep helps our brains process information more quickly and accurately.
Feeling anxious, confused, or stressed? Get some sleep. You will feel refreshed when you wake up, and your mind will be clearer to make better decisions.
Everybody can be afraid of making the wrong decision. How can you ensure you always get the right choice? Take care of yourself. You can take a moment to reflect on your emotions and learn how you can manage them. Although emotions are integral to our being, they don’t need to be controlling. You’ll be less likely to regret your choices once you better understand your mind.
Read More: The 80/20 Rule: How It Works and How You Can Apply It In Your Life To Get The Best Results
Read More: Pessimism vs. Optimism: How Mindset Impacts Wellbeing
Read More: Principles For Success: Develop Toughness and Build the Life You Want to Live
Research shows that our ability to accurately calculate risk is not very good, but this can be improved by learning and doing the above. Shockingly, many of our major life decisions are based on total irrationality. These are just a few examples of how it happens.
We make a mistake when we judge how much control we have over a situation.
When we feel more in control, we are more likely to take greater risks. For example, most people feel more at ease when in the driver’s chair of a car. However, just because you are in the driver’s seat does not mean that you can avoid all accidents.
We Overcompensate when Safeguards are In Place.
When we believe there are safety nets, we act more recklessly. In the end, we increase our risk. When they are wearing their seat belts, people tend to drive faster. Insurance companies found that higher accident rates are associated with cars with more safety features.
We don’t recognize the difference between skill and chance.
The casino discovered that gamblers who play craps roll the dice differently depending upon what type of win they are looking for.
They will throw the dice hard if they are trying to roll a large number. They roll the dice lightly if they are looking for a smaller number. It’s a game that is entirely random, but people act as though it requires some skill.
When we see a potentially large payoff, we are easily deceived.
Even though the odds are against you, if the potential reward is appealing to you, such as in the lottery, you will likely overestimate your chances of success.
Familiarity makes us more comfortable.
We tend to underestimate how much risk we actually take the more we take it. You’ll stop seeing it as dangerous if you continue to take the same risk over and again. You’ll underestimate the danger that you are putting yourself in if you rush to get to work every single day..
We place a lot of faith in other people’s abilities to perceive risk accurately.
Emotions can spread easily. It’s possible not to feel much danger if you are in a group of people who aren’t sensitive to smoke smell. If other people panic, you are more likely to respond.
While our feelings may provide valuable and necessary feedback on a decision, irrelevant emotions that are triggered by an unrelated event could cause us to lose track. We often have the ability to choose when we should perform each task; this should enable us to assess ideas and receive advice from others when we feel we are best able to do so objectively.
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