How To Make Better Decisions: Pretend You're Giving Advice To A Friend

Business Insider

Whether it's over major business moves, career switches, or simply how to organize our days, we spend far too much time paralyzed by indecision, second guessing our decisions, and generally doing everything besides what needs to be done. 

Brothers Chip and Dan Heath (professors at Stanford and Duke respectively) recently wrote Decisive, a book on overcoming that paralysis and making better choices at life and work. 

The book's major point is fairly nuanced, that confirmation bias, emotion, and a narrow viewpoint all obstruct good decision making, and that you need a certain distance and awareness of these issues to make better and quicker decisions.   

But in an interview with The Washington Post's Lillian Cunningham, Chip revealed that one of  his favorite decision making hacks, which can help you make sure you've made the right choice, couldn't be simpler:

The closest thing to a decision-making magic trick that I’ve found is the question, 'What would you advise your best friend to do if they were in your situation?' So often when I ask that question, people blurt out an answer and their eyes get wide. They’re shocked at how easy it is when you just imagine you’re advising someone else.

Something as simple as imagining you're making the choice for someone else whom you want to succeed can help sidestep hours or days of agonizing.

When you're been intensely   engaged with all of the information and choices, it's easy to build a mental block and endlessly run through worst-case scenarios.  Eventually, you have to be decisive.



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