If you want to make better decisions, make less.

How can I improve my decision-making skills? 

The same way Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg do.

Decision fatigue.[1] Understanding this psychological principle will instantly improve your decision-making skills. Just how might surprise you.

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To get stronger, you lift heavier weights. To learn, you read more books. To get fitter, you work out harder. But to make better decisions, you should:

Make fewer decisions.

We view decision-making as any other activity. To get better, you must practice the skill, right? This is not the case. You should think of decisions as currency. Every day you begin with only so much; Yet, as soon as we wake, we start spending.

Should I wear a red shirt or white?

Buy a coffee on the way to work or bring my own?

Watch television or listen to some music while eating?

Decisions aren’t free. Every single one is a withdrawal from your mental stamina. Once it’s spent, it’s gone for the day. These seemingly small decisions are slowly sapping your willpower and ability to decide. It’s why you can eat healthy all day only to fall victim to after-work temptations.

Your willpower is finite. Decisions are difficult cognitive tasks undertaken by your prefrontal cortex. Fortunately, you already know the solution. Make fewer decisions. It’s so simple that it’s almost hard to believe.

You need to take your small decisions seriously. These aren’t insignificant withdrawals. They add up. Remember, a leaking faucet wastes nine thousand litres of water a year. Cherish your daily decision-making currency, don’t waste it on insignificant decisions.

The power of Habit

By the way, did I mention habits? Every habit you establish stops draining your willpower reserves and keeps your decision-making coffers topped up. Once you have established a habit, it works with you.

Many fitness enthusiasts will tell you they hated going to the gym, but now you can’t get them away from the place. They actually enjoy the exercise. It costs little, if any, willpower. This is the power of your habits.

Every habit you create will stop draining your willpower battery. Make fewer decisions and create more habits. Give it one month. I guarantee it will change your life.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decision_fatigue

Published in Self Improvement, Learning, Productivity, Psychology, Science


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