When are decisions easy?

chessboard game

Please do not spend too much time overthinking easy decisions, even though they might appear tricky. A good decision is not about having a great result. Results are often out of your control. It is about having a good process:

Determining whether a decision is good or bad means examining the quality of the beliefs informing the decision, the available options, and how the future might turn out given any choice you make.

Annie Duke – How to decide

Cost of changing your mind

Some decisions are free, which means if you now choose A and A is not the thing that works for you. You can still select B for zero additional costs. Now it doesn’t matter if you choose A or B. If there are no costs (money, time etc.) for selecting another option, later on, pick the one you think is right now since you can always switch.

Outcomes do not matter

When it doesn’t matter where you go, why spend additional time thinking of where you should go. If all outcomes are useful and prioritisation does not improve any of them. Pick one, run with it and evaluate if anything has changed for your subsequent decisions.

Deciding what to do automatically is also a decision about what not to do. This implies that when you evaluate afterwards, you should look at what has changed because of your action and what has been impacted by your inaction in other areas.

Difficult choices between options

Often when a decision between two or more options is hard, then the decision is probably easy. The reason the decision is hard is often that the options are close. If the difference between the two options is slight, does it matter what you choose? (of course, it partially depends on the costs of changing your mind).

Decisions aren’t always easy

Wouldn’t it be nice when decision making would always be so easy? A good process will make your life easier:

What makes a decision great is not that it has a great outcome. A great decision is the result of a good process, and that process must include an attempt to accurately represent our own state of knowledge. That state of knowledge, in turn, is some variation of “I’m not sure.”

Annie Duke – Thinking in bets

If you want to improve your decision process, I recommend reading both Thinking in Bets and How to decide by Annie Duke. Both books provide you with many insights into your decision process and how you can improve.


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