When I realized I was at my lowest point, and knew things immediately had to change, I was able to join the military and marry a woman I met 6 months prior. From these sudden and successful changes, I learned about my talent for making decisions quickly and effectively. Decisions felt natural to me, but I also realized that for many people this process is difficult. For those who struggle with decision making, I offer three pieces of advice: Look at decision making as a process, not an event, everyone can learn it, and decision making is a superpower is mastered.
Still, despite the importance of decision making, it is not something we are taught even though it is part of our daily lives. For this reason, we are vulnerable to awareness stacking; taking on too many tasks which leads to awareness fatigue. People of past time periods had much simpler lives that required less to keep track of, but humans today are overwhelmed with choices. I believe that swift decision making is the solution to this fatigue, and making choices can free up our immense mental bandwidth.
Types of Decisions
If you’re struggling with a decision, simplify it into one of four categories: inclusion, exclusion, pursuit and avoidance. This sorting of categories distills decisions into a simple question: do you want to move towards something you want, or get away from something you don’t? Once you have these options laid out for you, you have clear guidance to make efficient and effective decisions.
Rules of Decision Making
Now that I’ve established how to categorize decisions, keep these three rules in mind when making choices efficiently:
1. Do not make decisions twice when once will do
Once you have figured out what to include, exclude, pursue and avoid, the decision has already been made for you. At this point, there is no need to occupy your brain any more than you have. The whole point of decision types is to make decisions more efficient and reduce awareness fatigue.
2. Make Decisions Binary
Decisions are easier to make when they are simplified. Break down your decisions into yes or no questions. Time is a precious resource, and decisions made the fastest are almost always the best. Binary decisions don’t lead to better decisions, but help the process of making decisions better.
3. Do not optimize outcomes
The reason people are often paralyzed in their decision making is because they are too preoccupied with controlling the outcome, which is just not possible. Decisions can only inform you of the next action, not the end outcome. Ultimately, making mistakes is better than doing nothing at all.
Note: This article was created from the conference Achiever II, and is rewritten from the speech given by Rory Miller.
After a period of drinking and poor mental health, Miller joined the military, got married and turned his life around. He now gives speeches about improving decision making skills.