We often use positive or negative outcomes to judge the quality of our decisions. If I earned a degree that I am “not using” I must have made a bad decision. If I use my degree daily I must have made a good decision. Is this focus on the end result the best way to look at the classification of our decisions as good or bad? Perhaps you use your degree daily, but you don’t like your job. Was it still a good decision?
I listened to a podcast this week that discussed the typical way we measure our decisions. This podcast was a great follow up to my previous post on developing a personal reflection habit.
When we are reflecting on our beliefs or our decisions it can be easy to do what Annie Duke mentioned in her interview on the Science of Success podcast. She called it resulting.
What is resulting?
Resulting is when we give the decision that ends in something positive the label of a good decision. It is when we give the decision that ends in something negative the label of a bad decision. Annie Duke says that when we do this, we are providing an emotional reaction to the result rather than actually evaluating the result.
Therefore, when we use the outcome, or result, of the decision to judge the quality of our decisions we aren’t getting the complete picture. An important idea presented in the podcast is to hold your emotional reaction to the outcome, or result, of a decision at a distance.
With the emotional reaction at a distance you can classify the quality of your decision based on evaluation.
As someone that is trying to form a more intentional and forward moving life, I am finding that my past decisions sometimes sneak back into view and try to distract me from where I am going. I sometimes give in to the idea that, based on my current results (not being where I “should” be or want to be) that I must have made all the wrong decisions.
A less emotional response would be for me to consider these decisions from all the angles in which I originally made the decision and then evaluate them – keeping in mind any data that might be relevant to the evaluation of the experience.
It sounds complex, but let’s image getting our emotional responses under control. Think about how different things would be if we viewed our decisions with a more accurate understanding.
I’m considering using this strategy as I decide what type of career focused training or course I should take as a next step. What decisions would you like to rethink or make using this evaluation approach to judging the quality of your decisions?
Behavior Challenge: Pick a decision that would benefit from putting distance between your emotions and the result. Listen to the podcast for more on how Annie Duke suggests you focus your evaluation.