Our generation is getting increasingly worse at decision making.
Blame it on the low attention spans, excessive consumerism, or on the wide number of choices available now that lead to a paradox of choice.
In his famous Ted Talk, Barry Schwartz (American psychologist), talks about his experience as he goes out to buy a pair of jeans. The hundred different options available in the store while buying a pair of denim now, as opposed to back in his younger days when there used to be just one kind of jeans in different sizes, make it difficult to make the best decision.
“Slim-fit, relaxed-fit or easy-fit? Button-flyers or zipper-flyers? Stonewash or acid wash? Do you want them to be distressed? Boot-cut or tapered-cut?“, the sales guy says.
The choices presented to him are clearly overwhelming and thus, he responds with, “I want the kind that used to be the only kind.”
He takes an hour to choose nonetheless, and though he walks out of the store buying the best fit of jeans available, he ends up doubting his decision, asking himself whether he could have picked a better pair of jeans or a better fit perhaps. The number of choices clearly raised his expectations from a pair of denim.
Not only did he take longer to make the decision, he was also dissatisfied with his choice.
As we see, decision making is difficult when the choices are aplenty, and more so when the choices are equally good-looking. It can lead to a paralyzing situation just trying to analyze and decide.
Sometimes, taking too long to decide can consequently lead to indecision, which is also a decision but we just don’t feel in charge of it.
Aren’t we all familiar with the story of the kid in a candy store that just couldn’t make up his mind about which candy he liked the best? He was distracted by the variety of candies in the store, and his excitement levels went up with every other candy he saw. Unable to make up his mind, he kept pointing from one jar to another. Frustrated, his dad dragged him out of the store with no candy at all.
Don’t we all relate to this story in some way or the other? Have you found yourself too overwhelmed with choices such that you are unable to tell which one is the best? The person helping you out in choosing may also get frustrated and in order to avoid annoying them more, you decide to put off the decision for another time.
Sometimes, there is also the fear of making the wrong choice.
And sometimes, we deliberately avoid making a decision due to hypothetical future regret! A lot of people don’t realize this, but the fear of facing the consequences of decisions often prevents us from making it. We don’t realize however that we inadvertently end up choosing indecision in this case, and we don’t even consider the consequences of this choice or that it even exists.
You may also have noticed how, often, it is easy for us to make choices for someone else, but when it comes to our own selves, we feel confused. This is because we often get wrapped in our own emotions and desires to be able to think objectively and clearly.
While the consequences in the two stories above wouldn’t cause a lot of mental and/or emotional distress, several decisions in real life do so.
How then can we get better at making decisions and thinking quickly?
Fortunately, there are techniques in the modern-day that we can practice and apply. These techniques increase our focus and consequently also our decision-making abilities. Mind-maps, speed-reading, life audits, brain enhancement techniques, journaling are just a few of those.
Mind maps are a great way to visualize all your thoughts as well as facts on paper so that you can take the best step forward. These maps also have the benefit of making it easy to remember stuff for future reference!
Techniques such as speed-reading and memory-enhancement lead to a sharp increase in focus and grey matter. This adds up to faster and easier decision making.
We also know how much journaling helps in organizing our tasks and thoughts in day-to-day life. It is the most basic way of self-evaluation. Start writing in a diary at an assigned time every day, and see how much the content changes after a month! A lot of people these days are also taking to bullet journalism, a new and creative way of organization!
As you become acquainted with some of these skills and practice them in earnest, decision making is smooth, almost automatic. You can also rest assured of your choices and naturally focus your energies in other important places. These skills aren’t just useful for students and corporates, businessmen and homemakers can benefit from them just the same. In the fast-paced world of today, where digital is taking us away from the real world
It is never too late to take charge of your life.
Kunal Chauhan, ICF certified life coach and NLP Master Practitioner, Certified Trainer for Mind-maps, Speed-reading, Creative-Thinking and Memory Techniques, he regularly conducts workshops on the above which you can learn and implement to transform your life. Visit www.kunalchauhan.com to know more.