Making Decisions Faster

By  Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo

A good book to help us decide quickly and not lose a lot of time choosing from many choices, is the one authored by Annie Duke entitled “How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices”.  Ms. Duke advises us to make a quick decision if a decision passes any of the following three tests.

The Happiness Test.  If you have decided to order salmon instead of tuna for your dinner at a restaurant and regretted later on, because you should have ordered tuna instead, what effect does that decision have, a week from now on your happiness?  None.  Many of our decisions, like what to eat, watch, and wear, will have little impact on our happiness a week from now because we can easily recover from a bad outcome.  So, the next time you’re stuck on a decision, conduct “The Happiness Test” by asking yourself: “Will my happiness, a week from now, depend on this decision?” If not, decide quickly and go for things you have not tried before.

Only-Option Test.  If you have quite a number of options, try to narrow down those options to two that fits your standard.  If you have five options to make on which place to spend your vacation, say Clark, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Boracay and Bohol, reduce it to two best options.  Let’s say you’ve finally came up with either Bohol or Boracay. If a vacation to Bohol has a 90% chance of being a great vacation, but a vacation to Boracay might have a 91% chance of being a great vacation, stop wasting your time and flip a coin. The faster you pick, the more time you can prepare for your vacation. The next time you’re stuck between two great options, isolate one option and ask yourself: “If this were my only option, would I happily take it?” If so, decide quickly.

Two-Way Door Test.  A one-way door decision means you make that one decision and can’t reverse it without big consequences.  A two-way decision is when you have the option to quit with little cost on your part.  Here’s what Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon says about these two kinds of decision.  “Some decisions are one‐way doors… If you walk through and don’t like what you see on the other side, you can’t get back to where you were before. But most decisions aren’t like that ‐ they are changeable, reversible ‐ they’re two‐way doors. If you’ve made a sub‐optimal two‐way door decision, you don’t have to live with the consequences for that long. You can reopen the door and go back through.”  With this test, determine if a decision is a two‐way door decision by routinely asking yourself: “What is the cost of quitting?” If the cost of quitting is low, decide quickly.

But if a decision you are about to make can have a significant impact on your happiness, or it’s a one-way door decision and can’t be reducible to one option, and the cost of quitting is high, such as changing jobs, then you’ll have to gather as much information as you can and give it some time to decide.  Same thing with marriage, vocation, and living abroad.  Let God be your help and guide in these situations by spending a great deal of prayer before making a decision, and get advice from spiritually mature people so that regrets are reduced and success rate is increased.