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Make Preemptive Decisions (And Eat Less at Thanksgiving)

Do you find yourself making impulsive decisions that you later regret?

Make your decision early.

Waiting to decide until a decision needs to be made can backfire. The pressure to make a decision can cause our emotions to take over, causing us to make less rational decisions.

Proper preparation can help us avoid poor last minute decisions.

Commit Early

If you know you’re going to need to make a decision where your emotions will hold sway, make the decision before you get to your decision point.

But don’t just choose a preferred option. Force yourself to commit to your decision.

If you only choose a preference, you’ll still be making your decision in the moment.  If you commit, your decision will be whether or not to hold to your previous decision.

The difference is crucial.

When choosing among a set of options, it’s easy to be swayed from one to another. But if you’ve already decided which option you want, you first need to decide not to go with your original option, then you need to choose a new option.

That extra level of effort in making your decision allows you to resist impulses and persuasion better. You’ve create a path of least resistance, which is to go with your original decision.

Need to Keep Options Open?

Don’t feel you can commit?

Then choose a default option. An option that, baring better arguments, you’ll choose once you reach your decision.

Comparing multiple options against each other can be draining. Having a default option allows you to compare your other options against only that option, reducing your mental workload.

The less effort you need to expend when making a decision, the more effectively you can spend the energy you do have making the right choice.

Using Preemptive Decisions

How can you use preemptive decisions in real life?

  • In Sales Calls
    Make “not buying” or “I’ll decide later” your default option before you meet a salesperson. Be careful of the sales strategy of asking what you want to buy instead of if you want to buy.
  • When Shopping
    Create a shopping list and decide ahead of time what you plan to buy. Create rules about when you can buy things not on your list. Default to not buying.
  • At Thanksgiving
    Decide before you go to dinner how much you plan to eat. Choose an eating strategy, such as “one scoop per dish” or “no second helpings”.

Use preemptive decisions to change your focus when making a decision from “What should I do?” to “Should I do something different than I previously decided?”.

Our desire to stay consistent with our previous decisions will help you navigate decisions where impulse and persuasion can cause you to make a decision you’ll regret.

What preemptive decisions do you make?

Credits: The photo used in this article was taken by Stacy Spensley.

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