Decision Making Process Part 2 – Why we struggle with some decisions

In both project management and our daily lives, we are faced with many decisions every day. The size and importance of the decisions vary but every decision we are faced with burns some amount of brain energy. If you have a good decision making process, you can minimize this energy drain.

There are many reasons why we struggle with some decisions. Here are some of the most common:

  • Too many choices – Our minds are comfortable with 3 to 4 options but when the alternatives grow much beyond that it could cause a “decision paralysis”. We see this in our daily lives when shopping. How many varieties of Cheerios are there? Dozens! When faced with too many choices, we sometimes shut down and don’t choose anything (which of course is also a choice).
  • The apparent choices are all bad – This is the case where none of the options are a win. But how do we determine which alternative is the “least bad”?
  • The apparent choices all seem equally good – In this case, we may regret choosing an option if it means we miss out on the good outcomes of the other options. Why can’t we have our cake and eat it too?
  • Loss Aversion – We fear risking something we have to gain something we want even if the odds are in our favor.
  • Fear of being wrong – Most of us beat ourselves up (mentally) when we make a mistake. Sometimes we fear our own self-lambasting if we make the wrong choice.
  • Fear of being criticized – No one likes criticism. We want everyone to love us, right? We want to show everyone how smart we are by never making a bad choice. This is obviously unrealistic.

In the upcoming posts in this series, I will show how a good decision making process can eliminate (or minimize) all of the reasons we struggle with making decisions.

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