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Deciding fast and slow #1: Deciding slow

Follow up to: Everybody Is Analytical
How can we make good decisions?
This might seem like a trivial question. We make decisions all the time. But are they really good decisions? And do we make them easily?
How would we even define or recognize a good decision making algorithm (for humans) ?
I'd define a good decision making algorithm as one which leads us efficiently to achieving our goals. Using it should also be reasonably short and easy and even fun, but mainly, it should lead us to our goals.
So I assert that having a good decision making algorithm is practically impossible without having well defined goals. Would you let somebody make decisions for you without knowing what's important for you?
And one of the times when it's hardest to figure out and act on what's important for us is when we're making decisions. Mainly important decisions.
While trying to make a hard (emotional) decision, like "should I quit my job", it is practically impossible to asses your own goals. Why? Because of biases And emotions which make our brain focus on things that aren't really important. Availability bias makes us consider mainly things which are easy to think about and emotional. Here are some funny (real) considerations from myself:
"How will my bosses manage without me? I'm leaving them all this work" – This is nonsense, I work in a big company where people can replace me, and besides, I might be much more useful somewhere else.
"Will I manage to find such a good job somewhere else?" – Of course, programmers are in a super-high demand.
I have all sorts of silly worries beyond which it's hard for me to see what really matters.
The obvious solution for all the craziness is to do some pre-processing  to find my own goals. To do it when I'm not emotional about a particular decision or situation. This pre-processing involves questions like "what is really important to me?", though I have a better methodology to offer.
Just to make this concrete, let's imagine you found that the main important things for you are "to make a positive impact in the world", "to have a Wikipedia page about yourself" (= to feel important) and "to have lots of children".
And then you have a question. "should I quit my job?". But suddenly this question becomes "What is the best way to advance my goals? Is it quitting my job?", which is MUCH easier to work with, than, say, craziness.
Formatting the question like this also allows you to consult with people more effectively: "My goals in life are 1,2,3. How do you think I can best achieve them? Do you think quitting my job will help?"
Let's call this goal-oriented decision making
 
What is not goal-oriented decision making
Trying to decide about something, and trying to understand your goals as you go.
These are not your goals, these are worries/excuses that your brain is making up.
I know because I have a brain too, and it's also afraid of changes, and worried about what people think, and so on. And it makes totally "logical" reasons for it at the heat of the moment.
 
Next: How to find your goals
 
 
 

One thought on “Deciding fast and slow #1: Deciding slow

  1. Pingback: Introduction to Biases | Potato Ninja

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