How To Better Make Life-Changing Decisions

Sagar Patil
Apr 24, 2019   •  2 views

When faced with a life-altering decision, many people whip out a pen and paper and start listing the pros and cons associated with their decision.

However, most people make a decision after imagining only the best and worst case scenarios and comparing their assumed risk and probability.

Sure this method may save you time, but it’s remarkable how you’re willing to spend so little time on something whose consequences just might shape the rest of your life.

So how should you make big decisions you won’t regret?

Here are 3 ways, in increasing order of effectiveness.

Moral Algebra

Benjamin Franklin, the famous American polymath, combined his expertise in Mathematics to introduce a system of weights.
After making the pros vs cons table, he assigned a weight to each item in the list.
What’s a weight?
Weight is a value, showing your craving for a pro or aversion to a con.
Add the weights on both sides of the table and make the decision based on the bigger number.

Multiply and Conquer

Let’s face it, decisions aren’t always ‘Should I take this job or not?’ simple. Sometimes, you have to choose between multiple options, like ‘Which job should I take anyway?’.
How do you tackle those decisions?
You list out a number of values that will come into play once you take this decision. Then you score each of these values on how important it is to you.
For example, while choosing a job, some of the values you will consider are salary, exposure, work environment, and overall happiness. Then you decide how much exposure matters to you over salary, giving it a score.
Finally, just like the previous method you assign weights to each of the points under the options, and multiply and add up to get a final score. Pick the one with the highest score, duh!

Divergence and Convergence

The final method is divided into two stages, Mapping and Predicting.
In the Mapping stage, you need to broaden your horizons and look for new options you may have missed completely.
Then, in the Predicting stage, you thin the list down by using the steps described in methods 1 and 2.
Allocating a specific amount of time to both stages will be great for people who tend to over think and waste too much time worrying.
Remember, though, that the lines between these stages can be blurry and there might be a lot of a back and forth involved.
But stick to the steps, and you will make the best decision possible for you.


Too much math for you? Or are the steps just too complicated?

99% of your everyday decisions don’t need any deliberate work. But when you come across decisions whose consequences will reverberate through the rest of your and your loved ones’ life, a bit of effort can go a long way towards a life of happiness and fulfilment.