Every day, we make a hundred, if not some hundred thousand micro decisions. From which foot to get up with first, over what to have for breakfast, or what project to focus our energy on…though often unconsciously (and thereby automatic and super fast ), we constantly are pondering, evaluating and thereby spending time about irrelevant things. Just think of all that time we could potentially save, if we were more decisive and faster in our decisions.
(Disclaimer: When our decisions could possibly lead to disastrous outcomes, spending time to reflect about our actions certainly can’t be called “wasting time”, as a wrong decision could cost us even more time, if not worse.)
Quite often, our struggles can be categorized as either searching for satisfaction, or maximization.
Satisfaction vs Maximization
It’s the choice between and adequate (and fast) or a (possible) optimal and (maybe) slow solution, as searching for the optimum might take some thinking (and thereby time).
Satisfiers take action as soon as their minimal criteria are met. Minimal criteria doesn’t imply that satisfiers always settle for mediocrity, they can be quite picky about certain criteria that need to be fulfilled. Though as soon as they find the car, hotel, partner,…which has the desired qualities they’re looking for, they’re satisfied.
Maximizers want to make the best possible decision. This summons two problems. At many decisions we face, we can’t possibly predict the complete outcomes of our decisions because our amount of information is incomplete. In game theory, this is called either a game of imperfect information (players are unaware of the actions taken by other players and how they interfere with our own actions), or a game of incomplete information (players aren’t aware of the strategies of other players, or how the might react to our actions). Maximizers just hate uncertainty. Hence, in order for a maximizer to make a decision, he commences to gather loads of information, to eliminate any uncertainty, which leads to a paralysis by analysis, as there always might be a better choice.
At some point, maximiziers should just role a die.
Hint: When buying something (Laptop, Games, Furniture,…) and the price was right at that time, do yourself a favour, and don’t look it up again in the future, as chances are the price will be even lower, and you will just be frustrated for no reason, and the hindsight bias will turn you into an even more indecisive maximizer.
Forget about Coins
Apart from the vital decisions where some pondering is legit, we too often get caught up between 50:50 alternatives, where any outcome is considered okay, either from the point of a satisfier, or even a maximizer.
It will have no big impact whether I have cereal or pancakes for breakfast, if I’m calling Dave or Tina to meet up, or if I attend the Muay Thai or Bjj class in the evening.
An economist would say that either outcome perfectly well functions as a substitute, and I might as well just flip an ideal coin, as in any case, I will be saturated, meet a friend, and get to work out.
There are lots of articles, which state that in the moment of flipping a coin, you will know what you truly desire, as you’ll wish for heads or tails to show up and then act on it. That’s a technique I truly like, but sometimes there are more possible outcomes, and the decision effects more than one person, like a group pondering which club to go to and everyone hopes for something else. Alas, a true randomizer is needed.
Also, there are no true “ideal coins” around. Scientists found out, that the allegedly 50:50 outcome rather is a 51:49 ratio, as the side which is up when flipping the coin, acts as a natural bias. Also, the centre of gravity of isn’t always in the middle of the coin, as it’s engraved. Due to this, the American penny with the portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the heads side is slightly heavier, forcing heads to face the bottom about 80% of times, resulting in “tail”.
Hence, when needing a randomizer, get a die. (Or visit www.random.org)
Right now, it’s 2 o’clock in the morning, and I’m at the decision if whether or not I should order some pizza. Fortunately for when it’s in the middle of the night (like now), and I want some grease dribbling deliciousness (again, like now), I stumbled across a pizzeria that delivers all night long. And boy, their pizzas and kebabs are awesome! As you’ve guessed, that is quite some seduction there.
But in order to not get any fatter, and spend all my money on pizza and kebabs, I decided that I should only treat myself to late night pizza once a month.
As treating yourself is very important to keep your motivation up high, on the day of the week I achieve the most, it’s time to role. If I hit 2 or 4, it’s pizza time baby (and believe me, every time I hope for pizza)! That’s a 1/3 chance of scoring, and hence equals in a pizza about every 3 weeks. (Ergh, forget about the “only once a month” thingy, I just love pizza way too much.)
It’s time to role!
Deciding can be so easy :). (And fuck yeah to pizza!)
P.s: If you’re up to no good (like Freddy the Fox), use American pennies for decisions in your favour, but don’t forget to bet on tails!