All decisions are big.
The seemingly small decisions you make on a daily basis, will often lead you down a path that influences the next small decision, which influences the next one, etc.
Whenever you can, don’t make decisions in the heat of the moment.
Set your own principles to guide your decision making. The framework I use is as follows:
‘It is important to me… (fill in the blank)’
- To ensure financial security.
- To feel happy most of the time.
- To be there for the people close to me.
- To grow as a person.
- To create something of value that’s entirely my own.
- To develop a career I consider successful.
- To be in great physical shape.
- To help a person in need.
- To do the least amount of harm I can to all living beings.
- To keep an open mind to ideas that are new to me.
(I have a couple more, but you get the idea)
Once you’ve set your principles, set rules to help you adhere to these principles, AND set additional rules for when they’re in conflict.
Principle: To be in great physical shape.
Rule: Be in bed by 9.30 PM on workdays, so I can wake up at 5.15 AM to make a healthy breakfast and hit the gym before going to work.
Conflict situation 1: I failed to fall asleep before midnight. Getting up at 5.15 AM would make me feel tired for the rest of the week, which won’t help me get in great shape.
Additional rule: If for some reason I cannot fall asleep before 10.15 PM, sleep in longer and hit the gym after work instead. Go to bed early the following night.
Conflict situation 2: I got invited to have dinner and drinks with the Executive Team at work. If I say yes, it’s unlikely I will be in bed by 10.15 PM. If I say no, I potentially miss an opportunity to progress in my career.
Additional rule: If principle 6 (To develop a career I consider successful) is in direct conflict with principle 7 (To be in great physical shape), principle 6 takes precedent.
Take the time to go through this exercise yourself. Principles make tough decisions easy. And more importantly: principles will help you make better decisions.
Start simple, you can create additional rules later – if the situation calls for it.
Generally speaking, the more clear-cut your principles and the simpler your rules, the more likely you’ll stick to them.
Most people are terrible decision makers in the heat of the moment.
Be the exception.
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