I don’t know one person who likes making decisions. I also don’t know one person who likes being stuck in an indecisive phase, straddling options. Clearly the world would be a happier place if we could all just hire someone to make decisions for us.
The older we get, the harder decisions become. What once was the life-changing decision of what to ask Santa for has become “Do I want to go into business or study law?” Despite the fact some of our decisions as college students now have longer-term effects, the small decisions still seem to plague us as if they carry equal weight to the big ones.
Take the classic example of “Should I go out tonight?” We can all agree this decision isn’t that important compared to picking a major or an internship. However, how many times have you stressed about going out or staying in for an embarrassingly long period of time? You know in the back of your mind the decision won’t really matter in the long run, but the more you think about it, the bigger it gets.
If it’s not going out or staying in for you, it might be something else pretty arbitrary such as eggs or pancakes, buy the shirt or save the money, go in the cage or save your dignity, whatever. All that matters is that they are insignificant, but they stress you out and you hate making them.
So, why do we hate making decisions? As someone who struggles with this problem an embarrassingly large amount of times per day, I decided to consult another, more scholarly source for the answer: Google.
So Google, “Why Do I Hate Making Decisions?”
According to Behavioral Economics, the prospect theory has one answer for us. The theory says that when we make a decision, we base it purely on perceived risk because we are unrealistically afraid of making a bad decision. The reason we are so afraid of making the wrong choice is because the pain of making a mistake is larger than the pleasure experienced when we gain. Therefore, as time goes on and we naturally make more mistakes, we become more anxious about the perceived losses than optimistic about gains, and stress out more.
There was another blog that ran with a more depressing theory. It argued that we hate making decisions because the “cide” ending of decide means to kill in Latin. Therefore when we are faced with a decision we have to “kill” options and grieve the loss of them.
I’m going to go with theory one, but I’ll leave the decision up to you.
How do I get better?
10-10-10. The answer is simple in theory, but hard in practice. I read about it in “10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea,” and so far it has been one of the best aids in making decisions.
The strategy is that whenever you are making a decision, ask yourself three simple questions: How will this decision affect me in…
- 10 minutes?
- 10 months?
- 10 years?
Believe it or not, it helps a lot. Not only does it force you to put your decision in perspective, but it also forces to look in the future and weigh the potential outcomes of all the options at hand. Maybe you only need to ask yourself the first question before you realize how ridiculous the decision is, or maybe you end up at question three writing a pros and cons list.
Making decisions will never be a cakewalk, but knowing that we are going to have to make them the rest of our lives gives us reason to do what we can to make them as simple and painless as possible. Give 10-10-10 a try, and if it’s not for you, consult your good friend Google.
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