The quality of and fact checking your decision making

(I’m trying to close some of the jillion tabs I’ve been keeping open in my browser for weeks. I believe this one comes via Charles Chu.)

People, as a group, generally suck at making good decisions on the big things, but we as individuals generally think we’re pretty good at it. And we, as individuals, are normally wrong in that conceit. Even when we get a decision right, there’s a good chance we got it right, but not for the reasons we think.

That’s gotta leave a ding in the ol’ ego, don’tcha think?

Unfortunately it’s all too true. Do an Internet search on “decision making” and you’ll get an astounding number of pages all of which say they can give you a leg up on making good decisions, big or small. Now consider this question: Would there be so many of them, many of them academic in nature, if we made good decisions most of the time? Yeah.

Looking at some of those pages, there are numerous and complex ways to improve your decision making skills. There are so many that reaching a bad decision on which one to use could lead you to disaster.

I’m fully aware that I don’t always make the best decisions–it ticks me off, too. I try to learn from my mistakes, but it is difficult because you don’t always remember exactly why you made a certain decision. “I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time,” doesn’t really help you out.

This article describes a fairly simple and technologically retro technique called a “decision journal” that might appeal to some interested in improving their decisions on the big things. It’s not suited for small decisions because it’s a manual system, and honestly, most of us do fine a picking out which gas station to stop at or where to eat lunch. But those big decisions, like should I leave my current job for this “I think” great new job or should we leave this economically moribund area and move here because “things seem to be going better”, are exactly the sort of thing it’s suited for.

I’m not making any of those big decisions right now. Us retired folks don’t have many big decisions to make, it seems. However, I think I’m going to print our a few of those pages and slip them into a binder for use when something does come up, and see how they work out.

And that Internet search on “decision making”? Now there’s an interesting rabbit hole for a rainy afternoon….

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