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Set Your Priorities First

When making a multiple choice decision, avoid reviewing your options until you’ve ranked your priorities.

Reviewing your options prematurely can create biases in your decision:

  • Emotional responses┬ácan cause us to select attractive options which don’t meet our needs, but which we then justify by subconsciously reseting our priorities.
  • Comparison shopping┬ácan cause us to overvalue attributes which can be compared between options, and undervalue attributes that differ little between options or are unique to only one option.
  • External influences, such as salespeople or advertising, can cause us to believe something is a priority when it really isn’t.

But what if you don’t know what you want until you look at your options?

Reviewing options can help you understand what features are available for your options. But you don’t need to understand the features to understand your needs.

Focus on prioritizing your needs and desires first, then map these to the features and attributes of each option after you’ve set your priorities.

By prioritizing first, you can:

  • Filter your options early so you have fewer to evaluate.
  • Avoid decision fatigue from evaluating too many options.
  • Do more research on your remaining options, if you choose to.
  • Avoid spending time evaluating options which provide equal value to you.
  • Lessen your ability to be swayed by advertising and salespeople.

The net result will be a faster, smarter decision.

What biases have you encountered when you’ve reviewed your options before setting your priorities?

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