How many decisions do you think you make in a day?
Perhaps 20 decisions in a day sounds fair? Wait… what about the small decisions?
Perhaps more like 200 decisions in a day. Wow that’s pretty overwhelming huh? Every day you make around 200 decisions. God, how daunting…
Wait, there is research that has been done on this? Well how many decisions does an average adult make in a day?
Well, it turns out that the average American makes an average 35,000 decisions in a day!
Each and every single one of these decisions literally shapes who we are as individuals. They determine how happy or unhappy we are, they determine how successful or unsuccessful we are. They determine our health, and they determine the quality of our relationships with others.
Given how many decisions we make per day, and how epically important they are to our well being, you’d think that we are all master decision makers ready and willing to take full control of our lives…. But in my experience working with clients and helping them to make decisions for their lives, they are anything but.
Do you truly know which decisions lead to happiness?
Here’s an example: You wake up on a Saturday morning, you have a choice to lie in bed and bask and relax, or you can decide to get up and get the most out of the day by doing something more active like going for a walk, or visiting a friend, or going for a swim. Which option makes you happiest?
What about when you decide to buy a present for a friend? You can spend $30 or $130. On the one hand you save money and can buy something else nice for yourself, on the other hand, you would feel great giving your friend an awesome present.
Can you truly say which option will make you happiest in the long-term? Or are you just running on auto-pilot, making decisions the same way you always have?
OF COURSE you are on autopilot! We all live our lives blissfully unaware of how much of our lives run on autopilot, causing us to make the same decisions over and over again regardless of whether they make us happy or not. Who has the time to seriously consider 35000 decisions a day?
Imagine, if you took the time to learn where your happiness really comes from, then started regularly making better quality decisions day in and day out?
Today I want to pose a challenge to you all. I am suggesting that everyone can increase their perceived feelings of well-being and success in 2 weeks with relative ease by simply following some easy steps to build your awareness of the decisions you regularly make, and take action to start changing your decision making habits.
How to make better decisions
WEEK 1 – Learning About Yourself:
A) Keep a note in your phone, I love using Evernote because it syncs my phone, tablet and laptop, but you can use whatever note taking program you like.
B) Make a note at the end of every day of all the decisions you realize you made. Keep the number between 10-20 decisions listed per day.
C) From the second day onwards, after making a note of that day’s decisions, look back at the previous day’s decisions. Next to each decision, write down a score on a scale of 1-10 for how good you feel about that decision in retrospect, how happy it made you now that you can think back on it. 1 means it made you feel like crap, 10 means it made you feel amazing.
This first week is incredibly important, it begins to create within you an enhanced awareness of all the decisions you make on a daily basis. As you near the end of the first week, you will be aware throughout the day just how many decisions you make that you forgot were even decisions in the first place. This alone is incredibly liberating as choice is perceived freedom and everyone seeks freedom.
You will also begin to develop a keen sense for what decisions bring happiness and what decisions don’t bring you much happiness at all. The results are sometimes surprising.
WEEK 2 – The Change Takes Place
A) At the beginning of the week, look back over your decisions. Mark the 5 most surprising decisions. Those that you thought would make you particularly happy or unhappy in the long run, but you realized completely opposite results.
B) Decide how you will commit to making these decisions in a different way for this week. Sometimes this is as easy as trying the complete opposite decision as you normally make.
C) Maintain all three steps as above every day. Make note of your decisions, rate them on a scale of 1-10.
D) Any time you make a decision that ultimately scored you less than a 5/10, make sure you make the decision differently the next day.
It can truly be amazing what you can learn about yourself in this process.
I personally always used to be selfish. I was the one who would spend $30 on a friend’s present and spend the rest on a $100 gift for myself because logically it made sense. Surprisingly I was only 6/10 happy with this in retrospect. I tried flipping it a month later and spent a good portion of my savings on presents for my mum and dad at Christmas. This scored me a 9/10.
Be aware! Old habits can be hard to change. Even when I clearly knew that spending extra and not being tight with presents when I could afford it would make me happier, I still struggled. The scoring system helps immensely with this because it gives you a solid reference point which you determined all on your own.
If you want to continue on, you can make it a bit of a game. Try and score the highest ‘happiness’ ratings over all in an entire week. Can you imagine how you would feel about life if every decision you made for an entire week made you feel 8/10 happy, or 9/10 happy?
I’d love to hear about your results!
If you take up this challenge, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how it went.
By Damien Diecke