How to make good decisions

How to make good decisions

We as humans have a major advantage over all other living beings:
The power of imagination
We can image the future and possible outcomes and go through multiple scenarios of any given action. That is quite amazing and some of us are specialists in that.
What has this to do with making decisions you might ask? Let me explain:
Imagine yourself preparing for a date. You’ve just met this guy or girl and you don’t really know what she or he likes. You want to choose a place for the first date and you are searching the web for the perfect local restaurants. Your search returns about 20 restaurants at your price level. How would you choose the right one?
You don’t really know much about your date, so whatever you choose might be right or wrong.
There is just no good way to find out.
You want to come over as a confident person, so asking your date to make a choice is out of the question.
In the end, you decide on one restaurant and you hope it’s the right one.
So how do we normally make decisions?
If you are aware of it or not, our brain scans through all possible scenarios based on the data it has available and we select the one which feels as the one with the best possible outcome.
Let’s say you want to really impress with the choice you’ve made, you might choose a restaurant with great entertainment. If it is not going so well, at least you both have a good time because of the entertainment.
If you are more the romantic type, you might choose one that is quieter and private in its nature, so you can play your act to the fullest without being disturbed.
However, your decision will always be based on your prediction of the best possible outcome and you might be right or wrong.
If this is only one of many dates, you might not put so much weight on your choice, because if it does not work, the next date will come.
But what if there is more pressure on you to make this date work?
Would that change your choice?
For many this kind of decisions makes them get stuck in an endless loop. Because they see the choice of restaurant as such an important factor for their success and they just haven’t got enough data to make that one decision.
Let’s change the scenario.
Let’s say you live in a smaller town and there is only one good restaurant. Would you still think about the right choice of restaurant? Of course, not, there is only one possibility and there is no point in thinking about it. Your brain will take that restaurant as a fact and play its scenarios with the given details. Of course, there can still be good or bad outcomes, but the choice of the restaurant has nothing to do with it.
Based on my studies most successful people have a very good process dealing with this kind of situations. They understand that choice is a distractor from what you want to achieve. Reducing the choices to the most important ones is key in this process. Does the outcome of your date really depend on the restaurant you choose?
So how can you make the right decisions?
First of all, have a clear idea of the expected outcome.
Next play the scenario backward. It’s like playing a video in reverse. This will reduce it to only a few possible scenarios.
Select maximum 3 ways to get to the expected outcome and choose one.
The number 3 is the key here. Keep everything within that range. If you need to decide on a restaurant, choose out of three, not more.
If you need to decide on a dress or shirt, choose out of three.
Our brain has the least problem to come to a quick decision if only 3 options are involved.
Now you have a good starting point in finding your personal way of making good decisions.
The truth about multi-tasking

The truth about multi-tasking

Multitasking has become a new fashion word. It’s praised as the most efficient way of getting things done. But is it?

Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time (Steve Uzzell)

The word multitasking comes from the computer development world and was meant to describe multiple tasks sharing the same resource (the CPU). But this has turned around and is translated today as multiple tasks being done simultaneously by one resource (a person).
This is very misleading as even computer CPUs can only do one piece of code at a time. It just does it so fast, it appears that many tasks are done simultaneously. But it’s just an illusion.

Our society loves the idea of multitasking. You can find it in peoples CV as a great skill and many are proud to be real multitaskers. It’s seen as a great advantage if you can multitask, like driving a car and texting at the same time!

But hold on, that’s not what we meant, right? What do we mean?

Most of us can do multiple things at the same time. We can walk and have a conversation at the same time. We can shave or apply makeup while listening to music on the radio. No problem with that. Where it becomes more difficult is when we try to focus on two things at the same time. That’s when we realize, we can’t. Have you ever spoken to someone who was looking at his phone and you suddenly realized that he stopped listening to you? That happens when the attention was taken by something happening on his phone and he started focusing on it.

The only way we can create the illusion of multitasking is by rapidly switching focus from one thing to another and back. Have you ever tried that? The result will always be a small percentage of the result you could achieve if you fully focus on it.

In the real world and especially in working environments we are constantly bombarded by attention seeking distractions around us. There is the loud conversation in the hall or the ringing phone. Emails are announced via notification systems in regular intervals. It’s really hard today to get some uninterrupted time to focus on one thing. This all becomes even harder if we’re faced with tasks that require our full attention. It’s exhausting. We believe we manage to multitask, but we’re just driving ourselves crazy.

Instead of being proud to be a great multitasker, we should be proud to find ways to fully concentrate on one thing and get it done right. I am sure you’ve heard about good listeners. Why do you think they’re good listeners? Because they focus on you alone and cut everything else out. Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than talking to someone who is constantly looking at his phone, right?

If you’re a person who’s always looking for ways to improve and be the best you can at anything you do, you need to learn to focus on one thing only and to shut everything else out. That’s the skill that should be on your CV:

Able to fully concentrate on the task ahead while shutting out and reducing distractions that would cause a lesser quality of work and result!“.

How does that sound?

Be a focused single tasker and you’ll be the best you can ever be!

In pursuit of happiness

In pursuit of happiness

Over the last 20 years, the idea of being happy has slowly become a real movement. It doesn’t matter in which area of life you look, we have to be happy. I guess because everybody is pursuing it so much that most people must be really unhappy. Unhappy with their work, their partner and themselves.
What has changed over the last 20 years that this subject has become such a magnet?

I’ve heard about many different theories trying to explain this phenomenon, but none really give the answer or explain what we could do about it.
For some happiness is something they have to find and others believe that it is already in us.
If happiness is already in us, it must be based on either something we have done in the past or on something we’re doing right now. If it isn’t in us, it must be something we thrive too, something that requires some action to get where it is. I also heard the theory that happiness is being thankful for what you have, also called gratitude.

Happiness has been identified as a feeling and like any feeling exists only during a very short timespan. Feelings come and go and what some perceive as happiness is for others the exact opposite.
If you dig deeper you’ll find that happiness is a form of relaxed contentment. Being for a moment in a state where nothing really matters, where everything is just alright.
It’s a very positive feeling and I can understand why we’re all trying so hard to repeat these moments.

The only explanation I found that works in all cases is to understand that feelings arise in waves. It’s a basic requirement of nature that for something to exist the opposite must exist too. That means we need to accept the bad things to get to the good things. It also means that everything must move forward. As soon as it stands still the wave can no longer exist and it all collapses to a flat line.

If we look at the different points made here, I can see the following result:

“Gratitude” is what has happened or what we have achieved in the past. It’s meant to ground us, define our current position and our value.
“Happiness in you” is the possibility to create happiness at any given time. For example helping someone in need, being intimate with your partner, flirting, reading or listening to inspiring content, going for a run or doing any other challenging sport. All of this can create instant happiness. It’s usually only for a very short period of time after which gratitude might extend the period for a bit longer.
“Thriving for happiness” is the opportunity to set yourself a desirable goal where the thought of achieving it alone gives you a tint of happiness but also drives you towards it. As you get nearer any negative feeling is perceived as a happy feeling as long as the drive to achieve the goal is strong enough. This works well until you’ve achieved your goal. Again that’s when gratitude comes in to extend that feeling for just a bit longer.

I’ve come to the conclusion that happiness is all of it. Happiness is in us, behind us and in front of us.
If you show gratitude for the things you’ve achieved in the past and are thankful for your current position and if you do things that make you happy at any possible moment while walking towards a desirable and inspiring goal, you create a constant flow of happiness.
They all support each other and if put into daily practice you will generate a much happier life.

It is solemnly on you to be happy in your life.
No need to search, it’s already here.

What do you do to be happy?