Smooth And Systematized: What I’ve Discovered About Deicision-Making

More than anything else I enjoy feeling clarity about life. There are a variety of states that are pleasant: excitement, gratitude, satisfaction.

Neither of these moods are accessible to me all the time, even though I try to experience more of them.

But clarity beats att the others. Clarity, to me, is when I know what to do at the moment to get me where I want to be in the future. Clarity means to feel purpose; it means that I feel that my actions will lead to success. 

There are many variables that affect how much clarity we feel at a given moment. There are biological requirements such as beeing healthy, having eaten and slept well. But more than anything, clarity is about the mind. The less we have to focus on besides that which matters, the more clarity we will feel. 

Decisions For Clarity

That’s why it’s so important to make decisions and to make them quickly.

If decisions cannot be made immediately, they have to be externalized somehow. Anything goes, as long as you get them out of your head.

  • Delegate what you can’t do yourself.
  • Make a list of all the things that depend on somebody elses response (Pending), and add reminders to make sure that you’re not at their mercy in case they don’t care as much as you do.
  • Write down everything that has to be done at some point (time/place), even if you cannot not do it now.
  • Everything you can do now, do it.

If there are small decisions to be made, get it over with as quickly as possible.

I bought a second SIM card last week becauset there was a great deal on mobile data. Then I had second thoughts, which resultet from a lack of information. Would the new SIM work with some my apps and the things I need the internet for? I had been thinking about it for several days. 

I closed all the open loops and researched the answers to my questions. Still, I had not made a formal decision.

It took the approaching end of the month to provide enough pressure for me to actually sit down and decide. Within three minutes, I decided that the SIM would work for everything I needed it for.

Also, it would cost me $5 less for a 6-month-period in which I will have 200GB of data instead of 25GB per month. A no-brainer. But the facts had to be laid out for be to be able to see that. 

The Importance Of Laying Out The Information

It seems to me many decisions are a no-brainer–but only if we take a couple of minutes to give it our full attention.

Sometimes choices need time to incubate. Other times we just need to sit down and assess what we have in front of us. The latter frees up mental ressources which would otherwise be used up by the open threats that you carry in your mind. That’s all energy that’s not available for what really matters.

This year I’ve learned about the importance of decision making. I’ve also become better at it.

But there’s still so much to learn. Since I’ve been running a business, I’ve started to understand what I’ve heard influencial leaders say for a while now.

Decisions Characterize The Entrepreneur

Make decisions is a leader’s job. That’s what separates her from a worker who simply executes a different tasks.

The leader has to take responsibility and muster the cognitive ressources to assess the utility of the available choices.

To a large degree, that’s what you’re being paid for if you’re running a business. That’s the one thing that those who are on a salary want to avoid, lack the skills or motivation to do.

Your ability to decide might be one one of the most important abilities that helps you cross the chasm from being employed to becoming an employer.

Decision-making skill is what provides the additional value to the market that has the potential to increase your potential for wealth-generation x-fold. 

Becoming A Decision-Maker

A focus on decision-making shall inform my behavior in the coming year. I want to get better the process as a whole.

1) Identify Decisions

We need to be able to identify when decisions are to be made. Once that happened, it’s valuable to spell out what that decision is exactly. Is that decision about a SIM card or is it about creating a more productive working environment for myself? 

2) Assessing Choices

We need to take time to assess the available choices. That’s best done with singular focus, with pencil and paper. All it takes is the intention to think about the decision. 

If you don’t have enough information to make the decision, get it. Ask your friends for advice, call customer service, read 5 books on the subject. 

That’s how I made my first investment decision this year. I knew I didn’t even know what there is to know on investing. I researched what the best books on the subject were and read all of them. 

I learned that there are many different approaches to the stock market as well as many roads to success. But I also came to terms with that I didn’t have enough knowledge (nor interest in getting it at this point of my life) to invest actively. 

The books helped me to understand the basic metrics of the stock market, but also informed me about the huge role that luck plays in investing. 

The information that informed my decision about investing was this: There’s a lot of luck involved. I have no idea about the market, nor do I currently want to focus on learning a lot about it. Even if I did start to study the market, it would take me several years to get enough knowledge to confidently invest. The big investors all suggest to go with index funds if you have no idea what you’re doing and are happy with mediocre returns. 

That’s why I went with index funds.

Only time will tell if the decision will bare fruits. But the decision-making-process itself was probably the best of my life up until that point. 

I had zero knowledge to begin with. I found out where I would get the information I needed. Then I studied this intensively for around two weeks until I realized I had understood the basics. Additional information search would have a very low return on investment. Instead of ending up in some perfectionist loop, I simply went with it. Now the money is sitting there in index funds and I haven’t worried about it since.

Once again, we don’t know how the decision will turn out. But the decision-making itself was highly effective.

Other times, only time can provide the information we need to make a decision. That’s the case if we’re thinking about marrying someone. You can’t just do a full personality-check on them in the first month you’re dating. Your decision about your relationship will gain from additional exposure to that person. The more time you spend together, the more information you will gather to inform your decision.

Let’s consider the choice whether I will create content for the English or German market. 

This could be treated a business-decision. After all, there both financial and personal advantages to either of them. If that’s the case, I could make the decision right now, using the information that’s available to me at the moment or can be made available to me if I look for it.

But perhaps this is more of a personal decision (which it is). It connects to more esoteric notions such as what community I want to engage with, or in what language I prefer to communicate my ideas as well as my personality. 

Maybe with a decision like that, I should take a step back and postpone it for the time being. If I focus on creating content (in any language) instead, I will create momentum (which I desperately need). Also, I will get a feel for (or additional information on), which language I prefer to write, vlog, or podcast. 

As I’m considering it, I could even imagine some kind of hyrbid. I prefer to write in English. I can definitely imagine producing Youtbe videos in English, especially if they’re to contain simplified content for a mass audience. In that case, I would feel very comfortable communicating my insights in English. But when it comes to the podcast, I feel more drawn to the German language. 

Long-form discussions will be much deeper if I hold them in German. Also, I’m a great talker and I can do so for hours. Lastly, I would love to do podcasts with my friends and leverage the contacts that I already have.

The decision about the language market will have to incubate a bit longer because more information is needed.

3) Making Decisions

We need to actually make the decision.

This part is crucial. The longer an idea incubates, the more space it will take upp in your mind.

Information search also increases the complexity of your decision.

Therefore, if you wait long enough but fail to decide, you’ll find yourself in a situation that’s more difficult than necessary.

Now that the idea has turned into a monster, you need to find a way to get it of rid. The only way to do that is by making the decision. 

When I finally make a decision after having brooded it for a long time, I tend to feel like a bad spirit is leaving my body. Especially if we brood passively, open threats like that drain our ressources to know end. By the time you get to making your decision, you will be exhausted. 

That’s why the sooner that decision is actually on its way, the better.

Making the decision doesn’t only require you to integrate all the information that’s available to you in your mind. You’ll also have to mentally cut off all the other options. 

Once Decided, Make a Move

There’s a highly effective way to cement your newly born and vulnerable decision: make the first move.

In other words, behave in line with with your decision immediately.

That will reinforce that you a) made the decision, and b) that you don’t intend to change your mind (which you shouldn’t, considering that you did your homework). 

In case of my SIM-card-example, I immediately crossed out the little calculation I made in my note-book, signed-up for the necessary change with my provider and later even told my girlfriend about.

When I did my first investments, I slept on it for a few nights before I made the decision. But then, I sent the money to the fund I picked. Convinced that I based the decision on the best information available to me, I then repress any urge to question the inital decision or check on my stats (a huge investor-mistake, as I’ve read).

Only after you take action on the decision can you really be free of it. So once a decision is formally made, we need to stop ourselves from re-evaluating, unless we’ve received additional information, of course.

When I was younger, making decisions used to be a struggle. Some of the most difficult periods of my life were a direct result of being stuck in the process. 

Postponing Decisions Screams For Trouble

My decision what to study after high school took me several months to make. I couldn’t really focus on much else at the time. 

My failure to decide to separate from my ex-girlfriend caused me a great deal of suffering.

I don’t want to end up in these places anymore. They just steal away too much valuable time.

The cool thing is, I can already see improvements. I’m not sure if it’s because I know what I want, or because my thinking has gotten sharper. It certainly has to do with clarity. 

Making decisions used to be a chore in the past. But now the process can actually be fun and provide me a sense of pride.

I’m still not nearly as good at decision-making as I aspire to be. But I’m learning. 

The best way to become a better decision maker is to make decisions–a lot of them. If I learn how to do that, I trust, I my earning potential will increase proportionally.

My goal is that in a few years from now, I will be able to plow through big questions in the same way that I’m moving through a supermarket when I do my groceries: 

I know exactly what to buy and where to find it, swiftly pass by everyone else, grab what I need in large quantities, dump it into my basket and then smoothly exit through the self-checkout.