Decision Making Made Simpler

I’ve been trying to practice stoicism to blur out daily noises and focus my energy on things that matter most. On any given day, I’m making decisions that feel paramount, but in hindsight are part of my daily routine. Whether it’s a large media budget allocation for a client or which school my daughter should go to or how much to invest in a bear market. All of these are important questions that need my attention.

A simple of line of questioning I use to make any important decision:

  • Is this decision reversible?
    • Can I change my mind later and adjust as needed? If the answer is yes, then don’t ponder too much on it. Make the call and move on. When in doubt, just remember that you’re allowed to change your mind.
    • If it’s irreversible, then it necessitates much more attention. Example: I contributed to a donor advised fund (DAF). Once the contribution is made, it is final. That money has been moved over to the DAF and it is no longer available for personal use, ever. This required research, thoughtful selection of gifting amount and non profits, many calls with CPA and brokerage firm, tax implications, and more. Spending time and allocating resources on this decision was a good use of time.
  • Will this matter a year from now? A month from now? A week from now? A day from now?
    • In the moment, all decisions feel “big.” Most are reversible, but we think they’re irreversible. That “hard” conversation that you want to have with your team member or employee feels daunting in the moment, but once you have it, you feel relieved.
    • What feels paramount may not be. What we think matters a year from now may not even matter one week from now.
  • Am I being objective?
    • For any important decisions, try to focus on facts and remove biases. Lean into data if it’s available. Lean into your gut feeling and instincts as well. Try to be as objective as possible. Even if you make the wrong decision, you won’t feel regretful because you made that decision based on a set of information available to you at the moment.
  • Can I sleep on this and make the decision tomorrow? Buy yourself time when you can.
    • Larger decisions require more reflection. Try to sleep on it. You’ll probably feel different about it tomorrow.

Everyone has their own approach. The above bullet points are a simple line of questioning and framework I find helpful for myself.

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