On the whole, I find that not only do we want and intend to live the best life possible, but that we usually believe we're on the right path to doing so. In other words, we generally feel good about the decisions we make.
At the end of the day though, the goal isn’t that we feel good about our decisions - it’s that we make the right decisions. And we know we’re choosing rightly if our choices produce the outcomes we’re wanting to see.
So, if you feel like there’s some room for improvement in one or more areas of your life, apply this one-step method for making better decisions and start getting better results today.
Let me reiterate that our main issue when it comes to better decision-making is not our motivation or determination. When we come upon a fork in the road, we tend to make what we think is the better choice. We’re pretty consistent with who we are and what we value. Sure, sometimes we may do something we know we shouldn’t do (something that’s avoidable if we’re Living Beyond Our Motivation), but in general, we do our best given the information we have at the time.
The only question, then, is this: what information do we actually have?
If we don’t have any solid information to draw from come decision-time, we are stuck making calls based on how we feel at that particular moment. And the fact of the matter is, our feelings and perceptions are ever-changing and almost always skewed - a recipe for disaster!
For example, I could say I want to start sleeping more in order to be less tired in the morning, but how do I reconcile the fact that I often feel more awake with 6 hours of sleep than I do with 8?
Financially, I could decide to spend less and save more, but if I don’t know exactly how much I’m currently spending and saving, to what extent can I really accomplish this?
My health mantra could be “eat when I’m hungry, and don’t when I’m not,” but when my hunger level is affected differently based on what I eat, the times of day that I eat, the portion sizes I eat, and how quickly I eat, how much progress am I actually going to make towards a healthier life?
I could go on, but you get the idea. The point is, our feelings and perceptions are great helpers but terrible leaders when it comes to choosing correctly. We can be feeling great about ourselves and each individual decision we’ve made despite the reality that the sum of our decisions may not be taking us where we want to go.
The remedy is simple: we need more (and better) information!
Sometimes we can be scared of knowing the truth, preferring instead to turn a blind eye to it, but when it comes to living a fulfilled and successful life (however you may define success), ignorance is unfortunately not bliss. We need to know the facts, the raw data, the relevant information, if we stand a chance at making the right choices.
Remember: in general, we already do well at making the best decision given the information we have at the time. The problem is that we just don’t have enough information!
However, this is an easy problem to fix. Here are some ideas to increase the amount and quality of useful information in your life:
Get a budget to start keeping track of your dollars. Get a fitness wearable on Amazon to start tracking your calories burned and hours slept at night. Get a scale on Amazon to track your weight and body fat %. Log your calories consumed on an app like MyFitnessPal. For aspirations and categories of life that are not as easily quantifiable, create your own life systems that generate quality information for you.
To do this, first determine how you will measure growth in that area (i.e., what are key behaviors that will cause forward progress in the bigger picture?), and second, use a habit tracker app to record when you complete these behaviors. You’ll never be able to specifically quantify how much you love your spouse, for example, but you can absolutely create statistical information centering around the essential elements of love that provide you a general description of how you currently stand.
Maybe that sounds too extreme for you, but regardless of how you decide to measure things, the principle of gathering relevant information to empower better decision-making still applies. If you give yourself better information, you will naturally make better decisions (without trying any harder whatsoever), which will in turn give you better results.
And who doesn’t want better results?
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