Eeek – making decisions? Chicken or fish, red dress or green, elevator or stairs, change jobs or stay put?
From the big to the small decisions, if you had to calculate the number of decisions that you have already made today, what would the number be? 10, 15, 100, 1000.
Could you tell me which leg you use first to put on your pants?! Probably not without some thought…yup, you’re thinking about it now, aren’t you?! That’s actually one decision, but it’s one your brain locked down in it’s ‘automatic’ system a long time back and you haven’t thought about it since (… until now!)
Our brains looove to create shortcuts and put things in to that automated systems but many decisions we make throughout the day and our lives require conscious effort.
This week’s video is all about how to make better quality decisions and some of the neuroscience behind the way your brain works when you‘re making decisions. [Watch out for some amusing faffing from me at the end!]
There’s really interesting research into a concept known as “Decision Fatigue”: If you imagine throughout the day as you are making those innumerable decisions, your brain is using ‘effort’. What we now know is that, towards the end of the day, there is a biological price you will pay for that work in the brain (particularly yourdorsolateral prefontal cortex if you’re a neuroscience geek like me!) You won’t feel physically ‘tired’ but the price you pay may mean a sloppy or reckless decision, or you may not even be able to make a decision at all.
How can we improve the quality of our decision making?
Whether it’s related to our health or career or personal life, there’s some quick wins and some longer term ones.
3 ways to make better quality decisions:
- Make the important decisions early in the day, For example, if you want to ask for your next promotion, set up the meeting with your manager first thing in the morning.
- Remove as many obstacles as possible to help you make the right decision. For example, if you want to go to the gym, lay your clothes out the night before.
- Recognise your emotional patterns in decision making. This is the longer one! But, as much as you might think you are being logical in a decision about a job, or asking someone out, our decisions are driven significantly by our emotions. For example when you’re deciding whether to speak up in a team meeting, there will be an emotional pattern there driving that decision not the rational understanding that it will help your profile.
Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.
My challenge for you this week is: Keep a journal and start noting how you’re ‘feeling’ as you make a decision to uncover those unconscious emotional patterns.
Finally, if no one else tells you today, let me be the one to tell you I’m grateful for you. Thank you for letting me be a part of your day and thank you for being a partof my world.
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