The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

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What Is A 'Decision'?

A Decision is the act of committing to a specific plan of action.

If you're not cutting off viable options, you are not making a decision.

No Decision is ever made with complete information. Lack of information shouldn't prevent your from deciding, the world is too complex to make accurate predictions.

Failure to make a Decision is itself a Decision. Life doesn't stop if you refuse to choose.

For best results, be clear and conscious when making a decision.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Decisions'

A Decision is the act of committing to a specific plan of action.

The word "decide" comes from the Latin decidere, which means "to cut off." When you make a decision, you're cutting off the other possible avenues that you could explore, leaving only the path you're committing to.

If you're not cutting off viable options, you're not really making a choice.

No matter how good your personal productivity system is, it can't make decisions for you. No matter how sophisticated your task-tracking system is, it will never be able to tell you the best thing to do at any given moment. Constructing a system to make decisions for you is a pipe dream-all systems can do is help provide information you can use to make better decisions.

Making the decision will always be your responsibility.

No choice, large or small, is ever made with complete information. Since we can't predict the future, we often attribute the feeling of indecisiveness to a lack of information. What's really happening is mental thrashing-your forebrain's job is to resolve ambiguities and make decisions, so your midbrain will continue to send signals until your forebrain does its job.

Once a decision is made-whatever it is-the thrashing stops.

Don't feel you need to have all of the information before you decide-the world is too complicated to make accurate predictions.

Former General Colin Powell famously advocates collecting half of the information available, then making a decision, even though your information is clearly incomplete:

Don't wait until you have enough facts to be 100% sure, because by then it is almost always too late...

Once you've acquired 40-70% of the available information, go with your gut.

If that's a winning strategy for life-and-death battle strategy decisions, it'll work for life's daily decisions as well.

Collect just enough information to make an informed decision, then make your choice and move forward.

Failure to make a choice is itself a decision. Life doesn't stop if you refuse to choose-the world will keep moving forward, and you may be forced to take action by default. Abdicating responsibility for your choices doesn't mean you're not making them-you're just allowing yourself to be a victim of circumstance.

For best results, make your choices clearly and consciously.

In my experience, many people have difficulties figuring out what to do because they hesitate to actually make a decision-Loss Aversion prompts them to leave all of their options open, "just in case".

Without a decision, however, their brain can't use Mental Simulation to figure out how to get from where they are now to where they think they want to be, so their minds thrash around unproductively. Simply saying to yourself-"I am deciding to do X right now" makes it much easier to proceed.

Once a choice is finally made, your brain's Mental Simulation planning circuits kick into gear, and you'll start moving again.

If you're having difficulties making a choice, Steve Pavlina (author of Personal Development for Smart People) recommends using this question as the tie-breaker:

“Out of the available options, which experience do I want to have?”

If you're having a difficult time making a particular decision, it's probably because your brain is having a hard time figuring out which one is best. It's an uncomfortable situation, but what it really means is that it really doesn't matter that much which one you choose. If that's true, then you can simply choose the experience you'd rather have.

When Kelsey received an enticing job offer in New York City, we spent weeks torn between staying in Cincinnati and moving to the big city.

There were many uncertainties involved with moving-where would we live? Could we afford it? What about my job? It was enough to give us both a bad case of Threat Lockdown.

In the end, we realized there wasn't a clear winner, so it didn't matter which one we chose. Living in New York was an experience we wanted to have, however, so we made the decision to move. Almost immediately, we felt a sense of clarity and relief.

Instead of continuing to thrash, making a choice allowed us to move forward, even in the face of Uncertainty.

Questions About 'Decisions'


"At the moment of every day I must decide what I am going to do the next moment; and no one can make this decision for me, or take my place in this."

José Ortega y Gasset, philosopher and essayist


From Chapter 7:

Working With Yourself


https://personalmba.com/decision/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

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