Decision making

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

In life we’re often called upon to make decisions. Depending on your particular circumstances (your job, marital/relationship status, place within your group/family hierarchy) you may have this mantle placed upon you more regularly than others. You may be called upon to make decisions so often that you suffer from what’s known as decision fatigue. You may become numb to input and just pick options at random because your decision making apparatus has become fatigued and needs rest.

Regardless of the frequency of your need to make decisions, you may need some guidance in doing so. Western men are generally ill-equipped in this regard as they are increasingly raised and socialized to be meek and take a back seat. I write this to help young men get their balls back from the hands of the matriarchy, and become good at making decisions, whatever the context is that you make them in.

Weighing the options

The first thing you need to do is identify and assess the viable options. You’ll be figuring out how many options there are and what weight they each have as contenders to win your decision. (I like to think of things in this context, with the available options competing for my favor rather than the options being burdens I’m carrying and trying to satisfy. It’s a helpful mindset.)

Determining the number of options is generally pretty straightforward. If you’re hiring for a position, you’ll have a pool of candidates. If you’re deciding where to go to dinner, it may be that there are a myriad of restaurants available, but you can narrow them down to two or three at the most. There’s no need to overload yourself by trying to decide between five restaurants when you could just decide between two. This goes for many things, not just restaurants. You can apply the following things to women, vacation destinations, jobs, and so on.

Now, you may already have a favorite, and if you have a crystal clear feeling about one option over the other, go with it. There’s no need to over-analyze the decision if you are certain. However, you may want to consider the following if you’re having trouble making a decision, and it’s good to keep these things in mind even if you have a clear favorite because subjective emotional decisions aren’t always the best.

First, consider each of the options on their merits in terms of important domains. For example, if you’re hiring for a new position, firstly determine the relevant domains (e.g., experience level, competency, and so on) and then score each candidate on these domains. Ask all candidates questions and give them a score based on their answers. Then tally the scores and the candidate with the highest score wins. (This technique comes directly from Daniel Kahneman’s groundbreaking book Thinking, Fast and Slow [1]. I highly recommend it.)

If you’re deciding where to eat, or a vacation spot, you can execute a similar routine by determining the important domains, assigning scores, and listing pros and cons. For a decision between two restaurants, you might ask yourself:

  • Have you eaten at either before and how much did you enjoy the meals? If not, what have you heard about them?
  • If cost is a factor, which one is more expensive given your current budget?
  • How far away are they?

Lastly, you can evaluate based on level of enthusiasm. Is your girlfriend/wife, or group of friends very keen to go to one place versus the other? Having a sense of enthusiasm and adventure to try new things or have a good experience with a woman or group of friends can be a good deciding factor.

Pros and Cons

We’re all familiar with pro-con lists, and they are often dismissed, but they can actually be quite helpful. Sometimes when we take a step back from our emotional apparatus and cast a cold and rational eye on each option it becomes clear rather quickly which option is the winner. Simply score a point in favor of each option’s pro and take a point away for each options con. The option with the higher count wins. If you find yourself still leaning towards the losing candidate, you obviously favor that one for some reason known only to you.

Conclusion

There’s nothing worse than floundering around when a woman is waiting for you to decide what you’re going to eat, where you’ll go that day or night, or having a team at work wait for your decision while time and money go by. The issue is confidence: your confidence in yourself and your decisions, and their confidence in you and your decision making.

Determining where to eat isn’t an end of the world decision.  However, it’s good to have an automatic mechanism built-in to your psyche for decision making that you can tap with little effort when needed, even for small decisions. By utilizing simple and rational techniques of scoring options based on relevant domains you can be more effective and efficient in your decision making, and avoid constantly going where the wind blows you.


[1] Thinking, Fast and Slow.