Next-level decisions and keeping a log
We make countless decisions every day. Most are small, like what to wear. Or what to eat for lunch. We usually don’t agonize over those choices, which is fine. That saves energy you can put into other things.
At work, too, choices abound. How are you going to respond to that email? What issue do you want to be sure to raise at the meeting? We don’t think long about most of these relatively minor matters. But that doesn’t mean we’re not interested in the result. We’ve likely found that our choices do the job, so we don’t have to overthink them.
But every now and then, a choice comes up that’s next level. Should I buy a car? Or take that chance and move to a new city? These are not choices to make on autopilot. A lot depends on them. Perhaps you have similar moments at work, where you think: Hold on. This is important.
When a decision doesn’t come up often, it’s more complicated to make. If you had to pick out a car every week, soon it would no longer preoccupy you. After all, you’d know what to pay attention to to make your best choice.
How a decision log works
The goal is simple: making better decisions. That is, seeing to it that more of the choices we make today turn out well in the future. We can’t up the frequency of big decisions—how often we’re confronted with a choice—but we can grow to be more sure of ourselves when making them. How? By logging what we decide.
Starting today, try keeping a log of all your big decisions. The more of your thoughts you can jot down the better. But the gist is this: note for each decision why you made the choice you did. How did you conclude this was the best call?
What’s big? That’s up to you. You might record major purchases, like that car I mentioned. But this works for lots of other choices. That new hire, for instance—what was the deciding factor in selecting her? Why did you think it’s a good idea to start this new project? What factored into your choice of vacation plans? You get the idea.
I do this in a note-taking app—and I keep it super simple. I’ve got one digital notebook I can get to anytime, so I can jot down my thoughts behind any decision on the spot. The spark for me to open my decision log is also super simple: if a choice hits the I’m-feeling-some-nervous-excitement-here threshold, it belongs in the log.
With your decision log, you no longer have to rely solely on memory when a similar situation comes up. (And our brains are notoriously bad at recalling how things really went). Instead you’ll have real-time, firsthand info to consult: your own personal guide. I’m eager to hear what it does for you.
Have a good week,
PS In case you missed it, here’s last week’s newsletter for more on making the decisions your future self will love.