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Someone once said that life is just one decision after another and I agree.
Some decisions are small, like what to wear, but some are so big they'll affect us for decades to come, like choosing a career.
When I'm facing a big decision, I make sure I do three things.
Free up my brain's bandwidth, give it the fuel it needs and get honest advice from my friends.
By eliminating the small choices in life, you save the best of your brain's ability for the really important things.
When he was in office, Barack Obama removed one decision from his daily life—what to wear.
It was always a grey or blue suit and a white shirt because he knew the science behind decision-making.
And that by wearing a kind of uniform, he'd save bandwidth for the really important choices.
Scientists studying the brain have seen that all decisions, big or small, consume the same amount of energy.
A small decision takes the same amount of energy as a big one.
So when you need to make really important decisions, like which university to apply to or which job offer to accept, be vigilant about not wasting energy on decisions that aren't going to make a massive difference to your life.
Save your brain's bandwidth for things that really matter.
Your brain needs fuel to think just as much as your body does to move.
Thanks to advanced imaging we can watch the brain working away more clearly than ever before.
It's the most complex and energy-demanding organ we have.
If you're very hungry, neurotransmitters can't be produced which results in communication between the brain's 86 billion neurons breaking down, compromising your ability to think and make good decisions.
So when you need to make an important decision, make sure you're not hungry.
And I don't mean reach for the biscuit tin.
Research shows that drinking plenty of water and having a slow-release carbohydrate breakfast like porridge will help you think clearly.
Omega-3 is also a brilliant brain food.
You can find it in oily fish and pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
It doesn't mean you can't treat yourself but do try to give your brain this kind of fuel too.
The final step is to stop the fear of loss dominating your decision-making.
Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman spent a decade studying human decision-making and found that in big decisions we're generally more afraid of loss than we are motivated by gain.
According to his research, this means we often pick the safest option rather than the one that will have the most positive impact on our lives.
Kahneman's got a great tip for getting over this fear of loss.
Ask the advice of a friend who's not afraid to drop some truth bombs even if it means your feelings get a bit roughed-up.
An objective friend can help you identify the best decision because they're not weighed down by the fear of what could be lost.
In the end, the decision is always yours but it helps to seek this kind of advice.
So the next time you're facing a big decision, free your brain from small decisions, give it really good fuel and seek out a friend who cares more about your future than your feelings.
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How to make better decisions | 3 quick tips | BBC Ideas

4433 Folder Collection
Annie Huang published on March 13, 2020    Annie Huang translated    adam reviewed
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