3 Things You Need to Know to Make Better Decisions

Hi Everyone! Along with my colleagues Jim HeidShyvee ShiAlmeera Jiwa Pratt, and Tanya Oei, I have had the pleasure of assisting with the planning and promotion of LinkedIn Learning Live” — an interactive, four-week series of live events focusing on skills to help you advance your career, featuring LinkedIn Learning instructors and thought leaders. If you missed the event, you can watch the recording here.

In our first installment, we discussed tips for better decision making. As someone who can be very indecisive, this was a relevant topic for me! So let’s get into it…

Our speaker was Dan Ariely, a social scientist, professor, and author, and the instructor of the LinkedIn Learning course Dan Ariely on Making Decisions. Dan shared his story of how he got into the world of behavioral economics and how we can make better decisions to improve our work and lives.

Here are a few key takeaways from the event:

Establish habits that will make a significant impact.

Throughout our lives, we face both big and small decisions. When it comes to a big decision, we tend to take the time to analyze it because we know it will have a significant impact. With smaller decisions, we aren’t always able to dedicate enough time to think them through. Dan says, “The way to bridge the way we think about big or small decisions is through habits.” By recognizing your repeated behaviors and establishing a habit, you’ll be able to improve your decision making because you already took the time to determine what the best outcome should be.

What are some repeated behaviors in your work life? Some find that they are distracted by email throughout the day. One way to combat this distraction and create a habit is to mute your email notifications and check your email at designated times. Make it a ritual to take a 10-minute break, and check and respond to emails.

Determine what matters to you to uncover your happiness.

Sometimes we don’t know what it is that will make us happy. It’s important to ask yourself questions to determine what matters to you, what your motivations are, and what would make you the happiest. For example, remote work has provided me with more flexibility. One of the things I have really enjoyed is taking a long walk around my neighborhood during my lunch hour – something I would not have been able to do if I were in the office. But one of the downsides of remote work is not running into my colleagues in the hallways and having those impromptu, in-person interactions.

With all of the perks of remote work, it can be easy to forget the benefits of going into the office. Humans are social creatures and with the pandemic, we haven’t been able to be as social as we once were. Dan says, “Our care for our workplace is largely driven by our connection to our team and managers and if that connection breaks, we may be less committed to our work and we don’t enjoy it as much.” Let’s not forget how regular social interactions can make us feel connected and ultimately, happy. 

If you’re trying to figure out whether remote or hybrid work is right for you, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine what it is that really matters to you in the workplace:

  • What makes a great work day?
  • How important is it to see my colleagues in-person?
  • What would I lose from a fully remote situation? What would I gain?

Once you are able to identify the things that matter to you, you’ll be able to make better decisions that result in more satisfaction and fulfillment.

Be aware of your bias against change.

Change is difficult. When considering a career change, people tend to think about what they would lose. But Dan suggests we need to think about our current position as a sunk cost and evaluate both options on an even playing field. Dan gives a great tip for taking the bias out of our decision-making:

Instead of thinking “I’ve already spent five years in this industry,” ask yourself “at this moment, would I rather be a civil engineer or a data analyst?”

Try to think about it as if you are making the decision for the first time. This way of thinking can help eliminate the bias and be more objective.

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