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Stop Worrying About Making the Right Decision

Stashed in: Decisions, Life Hacks, Worrying is like a rocking chair.

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Difficult decisions like this remind me of a comment made by Scott McNealy — a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and its CEO for 22 years — during a lecture I attended while I was in business school at Stanford: He was asked how he made decisions and responded by saying, in effect, It’s important to make good decisions. But I spend much less time and energy worrying about “making the right decision” and much more time and energy ensuring that any decision I make turns out right.

If he makes the right decision it will take less energy to make it turn out right.

I believe the path to getting unstuck when faced with a daunting, possibly paralyzing decision is embedded in McNealy’s comment, and it involves a fundamental re-orientation of our mindset: Focusing on the choice minimizes the effort that will inevitably be required to make any option succeed and diminishes our sense of agency and ownership. In contrast, focusing on the effort that will be required after our decision not only helps us see the means by which any choice might succeed, it also restores our sense of agency and reminds us that while randomness plays a role in every outcome, our locus of control resides in our day-to-day activities more than in our one-time decisions.

In general it helps to consider the consequences before taking any action.

Sure, it's not a substitute for trying to make the most optimal decision with a limited amount of data.

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