Acquiring better decision making powers and setting your cognitive power in right path. On your path.

The product of thinking is decisions. The purpose of thinking is to solve the problem. Taking decisions to solve the problem. Everyone is so obsessed with solving problems. Have we ever thought about why we need to solve any problem?

A day comprises full of taking decisions. When the alarm goes off, should I wake or snooze it? A decision. Maybe a tiny one. Is it late? Can I skip breakfast? Another decision. Maybe slightly important one. Should I invest money in this? Hmm 🤨 . A significant decision. Should I consider changing this job? A critical decision.

Tiny to significant. Elevator or Stairs? Left or right? Red tie or black tie. Yes or No.

Each day is filled with thousands of questions like this. A decision is an answer to a question. A problem is a set of questions in disguise. Some need to be answered quickly, some needs ‘quite’ a thought before deciding.

95% of the decisions you make in a day are by the subconscious and you get to take only 5% with your conscious mind. Psychologist says.

Can’t blame the subconscious

The way your subconscious takes decision is based on previous patterns. Repetition of same of similar decisions forms into a pattern which in turn forms a behaviour. Conditioning, compulsive behaviour, addiction, mannerisms, etc fall in this category.

So a repeated pattern of decisions or thought process eventually got hard-wired in the brain (mind) helps you to take that 95 % of decisions without effort with the help of your subconscious. Based on this hypothesis, you are now ‘you’ because of all the decisions you took so far since your birth.

[Sidetrack: I agree that many of your decisions at your childhood are influenced which partially contributed to form your subconscious. Life isn’t fair for everyone. But again, you have the choice to change. A decision to make and that decision is still yours.]

Emotional & Logical

Two factors of intelligence that affect your quality of decision are Logical Intelligence and Emotional. Logical intelligence is the ability to think logically, reasoning out and connect facts. It is never based on opinion or intuition. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand and control your emotions.

What type of intelligence do we need to possess for effective decision making? Well, both. I know that’s not a direct answer. For the sake of the topic I am covering now, let’s keep the logical side aside and focus on the emotional intelligence.

We tend to decide more from the influence of our emotional side when it comes to personal decision making. Ego and other’s influence plays a greater role. Especially in personal decision making.

So, what is the best way for effective decision making?

Self acquaintance

Self acquaintance is not a complicated concept. Claiming yourself. Mastering yourself. Master yourself to master everything. Mastering your decisions too.

Being acquainted with yourself is a greater power. Great practice for effective handling of anything within your life.

(Mental) Solitude

Let’s not confuse it with loneliness. Though both may sound similar, Solitude is a positive feeling when you voluntarily isolate yourself. It is not physical isolation. It is about mentally isolating your true self from other influences.

Two years before I wrote an article of information overload, where I wrote about how we’re constantly fed with information from others and the outside world. On better understanding, we are actually fed with tonnes of opinions every day. Most of the opinions and thoughts we have are not purely ours. We’ve lost ourselves in the crowd. (On the post about mental minimalism I discussed this).

Solitude is blocking the world and its influence while you stay among them. Similar to water on the Lily pad on the pond. Cutting the strings connected to your mind which were pulled by others.

Being vigilant of your own thoughts

This step seems like a simple one but it is not easy to do at first. Being conscious or aware or whatever it is termed, just be in touch with your own thoughts. Your own self. Watch your own thoughts. Find what you like and what you don’t. Find what you are and not.

Try to contemplate your thought process. Pull your emotions out of your thoughts. Sometimes you like some thoughts, sometimes you get annoyed of some thoughts. Just find your true version, a un-adulterated version of you. (feels like I am explaining about meditation 🤔)

All you have to do is listen and differentiate the different voices coming from different parts of you at a different emotional level.  Checking the thought where it arises. Who planted it. Cause of it. Just to verify its ingenuity.

Once you mastered this through practice, it will come more fluently.

Calm

Let the emotions settle down. At the point where you really can think without rekindling your emotions is the key for calmness. You can think. Without emotions or likes and dislikes. But no positive or negative feelings. Just bare facts or possibly truths. A good tip to attain this is suppressing your ego when you analyse your thoughts.

Let the calm mind leads to clarity.

Clarity

Clarity of present and understanding of the past.

Make your vision clear before dusting the objects. Have a clear mind before you see the confusing problem rather than understanding the conundrum in the first place.

Once the knife is sharpened well, half the job is already done. Clarity is that sharpness you need before deciding.

Confident

Let me not give you all the mundane and cliche advises like Decide confidently, Don’t afraid of criticism, blah, blah, etc.

Just go with the decision. Confidence is the energy you give to your decision. Even bad decisions driven by good energy would yield surprising results. Confidence is the positive vibe, the optimistic approach which enables you to execute your decisions efficiently.

Sometimes it may not be the best decision in other’s opinion. Sometimes it may not be the best decision factually. At least it was your decision, and you gained a perfect experience out of it.

Covering the uncovered

I leave it up to you whether to trust your gut feelings, intuitions when making decisions. It varies from one to another. So you should use your experience to find it out whether to rely on those feelings.

I totally not against asking expert advise or reaching to friends when you have to make a hard decision. It depends on the expert and your friend’s intentions, level of expertise and how much they know about you. But I strongly suggest keeping their advice as to options not as conclusions. Give a little more value to the ideas given by people who know you well for a long time.

You can be selfish when taking your personal decisions. I strongly believe self-preservation is a dominant goal of life (Stoic inspired).

You need to have clarity over the situation beyond the clarity of your own emotions.

Finally, it is your personal decision to take this opinion of mine. Get influenced by the facts and knowledge rather than by my opinions. Good luck.

About the author

Sakthitharan Subramanian

Professor by Profession | Thinker by Passion | Academic Researcher | LIke to code | Productivity Enthusiast | Loves Minimalism & Philosophy | PhD in Computer Science |